Articles in our media archive are listed in alphabetical order by news outlet.
Aftonbladet: “A firewall against terror in Islam’s name,” by Wolfgang Hansson. In this Swedish language article, Wolfgang Hansson describes LibForAll Advisor, Kyai Haji Mustofa Bisri, as a “firewall against terror in Islam’s name.” The problem is not Islam, says Mustofa Bisri, but religion when it is used to suppress human rights and freedoms. Read about Mustofa Bisri’s European visit.
The Age: “Gentle friendly face of Indonesia and Islam,” by Greg Barton. “Wahid is remembered today largely for his role as a reformist president, but history is likely to also remember him as one of the 20th century’s leading Islamic intellectuals and as someone who demonstrated how a traditional Islamic scholar can also be modern, democratic and humanitarian.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)/Le Monde: “Holocaust-affirming Conference Opens in Indonesia/L’existence de l’Holocauste réaffirmée lors d’une conférence en Indonésie,” by Sebastien Blanc. “Chairing the discreetly-organized conference is former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, known as Gus Dur, a moderate Islamic leader known to take courageous positions in Indonesia…. ‘Although I am a good friend of Mahmud Ahmadinejad, I have to say he is wrong,’ Gus Dur told the conference, referring to the Iranian president’s dismissal of the Holocaust as a myth. ‘He falsified history.’”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)/The Weekend Australian: “Dalai Lama Defends Islam at Anti-terror Religious Meeting,” by Gary Chapman. The world’s oldest (and 3rd largest, after AP and Reuters) news agency carried this story about an historic summit between the Dalai Lama and Muslim leaders that LibForAll helped organize.
Al-Ahram: “Indonesian Islam,” by Muhammad Abul Fadl, deputy editor, Al-Ahram. “The vital role of the Nahdlatul Ulama stems from its success as a mediator between the Indonesian government and its people. The NU can maintain a harmonious relationship between the government and the people due to its spiritual values, political engagement and mass following, which combine a profound understanding of Islam with respect for the inherent variety of Indonesia’s countless local cultures. That is why the Nahdlatul Ulama has consistently nurtured the values of Islam Nusantara (East Indies Islam) for over a century, and is now poised to export its collective wisdom and experience throughout the world, for the benefit of humanity.” Al-Ahram (The Pyramids) is one of the oldest (est. 1875) and largest-circulation daily newspapers in the Arab world.
Al-Ahram: synopses of 13 al-Ahram columns (January through June 2014) by Dr. Ali Mabrook, Executive Director of the International Institute of Qur’anic Studies’ public policy division, the Center for Contemporary Islam (CCI). Dr. Mabrook wrote a regular column for al-Ahram, one of the oldest and most widely-read newspapers in the Arab world. Two additional papers in this collection were written for the Mominoun (Believers) Without Borders Institute and a third for an international conference regarding the philosophical thought of Murtada Mutahhari held in Qom, Iran.
Al-Ahram: synopses of 21 al-Ahram columns (March through December 2013) by Dr. Ali Mabrook, Executive Director of the International Institute of Qur’anic Studies’ public policy division, the Center for Contemporary Islam.
Al-Ahram: “The Discourse of Visions and Supernatural Tidings in Rabi’a Square,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “Anyone who propagates a similar ‘vision’ of the Prophet (PBUH)—in this case, instructing Morsi to lead communal prayers—is exploiting an historical narrative that is familiar to every Muslim Brotherhood supporter gathered in Rabi’a Square. Leading the prayer in Muhammad’s presence (PBUH) is cited as ‘proof’ of a right to political power. Given this vision and narrative, it is only natural that Brotherhood followers would demand Morsi’s reinstatement as president, for the Prophet (PBUH) himself commands Morsi’s return to power. As a result of such manipulative discourse, many of those gathered in Rabi’a Square are prepared to sacrifice their lives for a cause they believe is dear to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), when in fact the real agenda behind the protests at Rabi’a is the gratification of the Brotherhood’s political ambitions, orchestrated by charlatans who hide behind the veil of religious belief.”
Al-Ahram: “Religious Discourse and the Human Condition: Which Comes First?,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “If we all agree upon the fact that Egypt is currently in dire need of a serious and fruitful dialogue among its citizens, the only way to achieve such dialogue is to construct an open intellectual arena, in which everyone can share his or her views with others, for the sake of mutual enrichment. We do not need an atmosphere in which all parties assert the absolute validity of their own vision, and seek to impose it upon others, or cling to such ideas and ask others to accept or reject them, despite the feeble evidence adduced for said opinions. The prerequisite for any productive dialogue is a critical examination of any and all concepts being discussed, along with their intellectual foundations or lack thereof. That is to say, concepts should be treated not as ideological ‘slogans’ used to mobilize people, but as ‘subjects’ of discussion that may lead to further knowledge and understanding.”
Al-Ahram: “Is it ‘Qur’anophobia,’ Or Merely Rejecting a Specific Interpretation of the Qur’an?,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “Egypt, in the aftermath of its revolution, is in urgent need of dialogue. In order for this dialogue to be fruitful and productive, it must be open dialogue, conducted in such a manner—by different elements of society—that the worldviews and concepts of everyone who participates are mutually enriched. One thing we certainly do not need is for everyone to rigidly adhere to their own opinions, and seek to impose these upon others, or society as a whole—expecting people to accept or reject said views in the absence of any solid intellectual or factual evidence to support them.”
Al-Ahram: “The Civil State and its Totalitarian Opponents,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “State-sanctioned dogma inevitably degrades human beings, by positioning them as mere tools to verify, and conform to, the dogma in question. Dogma gives rise to a state in which people are compelled to serve a ‘transcendental’ power, whether God (i.e., those who claim to speak in His name); the supreme hero; a political party; class; tribe; sect or any other power that seeks to diminish human beings’ freedom and autonomy…
“For when some people insist on attributing human actions to God, we should realize that their attributions are merely metaphorical. In reality, they are attributing [the revolution’s success] to those who hide themselves behind God, and claim to speak in His name. Attributing the fall of Mubarak’s regime to God thus reveals the attempts of certain religious groups to steal the Egyptian revolution, so that they may dominate post-revolutionary Egypt in the name of God.”
Al-Ahram: “The Classical Roots of Abu-Zayd’s Thought,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “The essence of Abu-Zayd’s work was to establish a kind of interactive relationship between the text (i.e., the Qur’an) and human understanding, in which the text is not positioned as an authority that subjugates or enslaves the human mind. In other words, Nasr sought to establish an arena of interactive communication between human understanding and the texts in question.
“By framing the issue this way, we may quickly realize that the ‘interactive relationship’ proposed by Abu-Zayd has extremely deep roots, which stretch all the way back to a central event in the history of Islam. I am referring to conflict between the Fourth Caliph, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, and Mu’awiyah, founder of the Ummayad dynasty—whose parents Hind and Abu Sufyan had sought to kill the Prophet Muhammad and exterminate the early Muslim community, until the Muslims’ triumph led them to embrace Islam and seek power within the newly victorious community. The outcome of this bloody struggle between ‘Ali and Mu’awiyah helped determine the entire subsequent political and cultural history of Islam.”
Al-Ahram: “Extremism is Alien to Islam,” by Alaa Amer, praises LibForAll Foundation as “a nongovernmental organization which cares deeply about Islam and Muslims. The foundation strives to express, clarify and widely disseminate a true understanding of Islam not only to non-Muslims, but also to Muslims in general.”
Al-Ahram Weekly: “Thus spoke Nasr Abu-Zayd,” by Mona Anis. “The death of Nasr Abu-Zayd in a Cairo hospital this week has deprived Arab-Islamic culture of a leading voice of rationalism.”
Al-Ahram Weekly: “When the professor can’t teach,” by Nadia Abou El-Magd. “I would like to tell the Muslim nation that I was born, raised and lived as a Muslim and, God willing, I will die as a Muslim…. My worst fear is that people in Europe may consider and treat me as a critic of Islam. I’m not…. I’m critical of old and modern Islamic thought.” (2000)
Al-Arab: “Political Horizons for Indonesian Islam,” by Muhammad Abul Fadl. “…the profoundly spiritual and tolerant worldview embodied in the term Islam Nusantara has begun to expand beyond its local framework to a global environment. Many lines of communication have been initiated between the Nahdlatul Ulama and various Western governments. [Spiritual leaders within] the Nahdlatul Ulama have begun to establish working relationships and operational nodes in many countries, operating under the organizational name, “Home of Divine Grace (Bayt ar-Rahmah).” Each operational node propagates the model of tolerance embraced by the Nahdlatul Ulama—such as peaceful coexistence with others and respect for individuals’ right to privacy, including freedom of thought and conscience—and seeks to accomplish this by leveraging the profound humane and spiritual values that underlie and animate all religions.”
Al-Arab: “European Expert on Islamist Groups: ‘The Interests of Ankara and Washington Prevent Them From Eliminating ISIS’—A Dialogue with Dr. Rüdiger Lohlker,” by Muhammad Abul Fadl. “Dr. Lohlker emphasized the absolute necessity of Western nations identifying and embracing a new initiative to propagate ‘the tolerant face (version) of Islam,’ with its rich traditions of spirituality, pluralism and genuine acceptance of others.”
Almasryalyoum: “Nasr Hamed Abu Zaid: Islam’s scholar,” by Mohamed Shoair. “Nasr Hamed Abu Zaid got his wish: He died in his home country, Egypt, not in exile as he once feared. Abu Zaid passed away in a Cairo hospital on Monday where he was receiving treatment for the past few weeks. The renowned Islamic scholar had contracted an unknown virus last month during a routine visit to Indonesia, where he had recently co-founded the International Institute for Quranic Studies, a project dedicated to promoting tolerance, pluralism and critical thinking in the Islamic world.”
American Islamic Leadership Coalition: “Foundational Principles.”
American Islamic Leadership Coalition: “A Communiqué in Response to the National Strategy for Counterterrorism.” LibForAll joins fellow American Islamic Leadership Coalition members in proposing key revisions to U.S. National Strategy on Counterterrorism.
American Thinker: “A New Model of Islam with Less Bark and More Bite,” by Robert Small. “The best solution is to increase the proportion of moderates to extremists; however, Bostom and other proponents of the simple model are quick to ‘correct’ anyone who dares pair the word ‘moderate’ with ‘Islam’ or give moderate Muslims a measure of relevancy. In my last article, Bostom’s targets were the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and its former head and one-time president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid. Never mind that Andrew McCarthy, in his excellent book The Grand Jihad, wrote of my ‘much ballyhooed’ Wahid that ‘by any estimation, he is an authentic moderate who urges interfaith tolerance.’”
Antara News/Kompas: “Gus Mus Launches Book at the European Parliament.” “In his address, Dr. Werner Langen… expressed his great pride in being able to sponsor the launch of this important book, in order to expand Europeans’ horizon of understanding about Islam.”
Arabian Business: “Special Report: Top Stories of 2007.” “In Bali, Indonesia, a gathering of religious leaders and victims of terrorist attacks, sponsored by the US LibForAll Foundation, denounced Iran’s president for claiming the Holocaust was a myth.”
The Asia Sentinel: “Indonesia and Transnational Islamic Extremism.” “An exhaustive report compiled by three reputable Indonesian foundations and led in part by a former Indonesian president, was released last week saying Indonesia’s moderate form of Islam is being undermined by extremists who are infiltrating moderate Muslim groups and institutions in order to gain support for an Islamic state or international caliphate.”
Associated Press: “Indonesia calls on Islamic leaders to promote tolerant Islam.” “Indonesia’s vice president on Monday called on Islamic leaders to spread messages about a tolerant Islam to curb extremism that often springs from misinterpretation of Islamic teachings. Speaking at the opening of the International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he believes that youths who don’t have deep faith are susceptible to be militants, not for wealth or political cause, but rather as a ‘shortcut’ to heaven.”
Associated Press: “Former Telecom Executive Battling Extremism in Indonesia,” by Tim Whitmire. “‘We engage with individuals through ideas. We implode radical Islam through ideas,’ Taylor said, describing his desire to link moderate Muslim leaders in Indonesia in a network of ‘lighthouses within the Islamic world’ that will promote tolerance and freedom of thought and worship.”
Associated Press/Washington Post: “In Indonesia, Iranian Leader Criticized,” by Robin McDowell. “Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, hosted an unusual gathering Tuesday of religious leaders and victims of terrorist attacks who denounced Iran’s president for claiming the Holocaust was a myth.”
The Australian/AAP: “Scholars set to tackle Muslim ‘orthodoxy’,” by Lauren Farrow. “While radicalism is not new in Indonesia, NU’s Supreme Council general secretary, Yahya Cholil Staquf, told AAP the movement is clearly becoming stronger. In the hopes of coming up with a strategy to combat extremism and rising Islamophobia, more than 400 scholars from Indonesia, North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and America are expected to attend a conference in East Java on Sunday and Monday. Through theological debate, Mr. Staquf said they hope to challenge some of the ‘problematic’ elements of Islam, which are being promoted by the ultra-conservative orthodoxy.”
The Australian: “Indonesian online warriors pulling the beard of radical Islam,” by Amanda Hodge. “When the head of Indonesia’s largest and most moderate Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, joked that men with beards tend to be stupid—and the longer the beard the more stupid the man—there was apparently method in his madness.”
The Australian: “Australia owes a debt of gratitude to Indonesia’s accidental president,” by Greg Barton. “Australia lost one of its best friends in Southeast Asia with the passing of former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid on Wednesday. A controversial figure, particularly as president, Wahid was nevertheless loved and admired by tens of millions.”
The Australian: “A legacy of democracy.” “The outpouring of affection for Gus Dur is not surprising… A moderate Islamic scholar, his most important legacy was paving the way for the democracy that Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, now enjoys.”
The Australian: “Lesson today is hatred as Bashir cultivates bombers’ breeding ground,” by Paul Toohey. “‘Modernisation will not produce moderation,’ says Taylor. ‘As a matter of fact, it’s very often Muslims with the most modern educations who have the capability of committing the violent acts. They use the education they have to radicalise their fellow members of society.’”
Australian Associated Press: “Extremists sit deep in Indonesia: Wahid.” “Islamic extremists have infiltrated deep into Indonesia’s government, businesses, schools and religious bodies, and are using cunning new tactics to seize control of mosques and preach radicalism, a former president says. Writing in a new book, The Illusion of an Islamic State, Wahid says the extremists are systematically infiltrating Indonesian institutions in order to remake Indonesian society ‘in their own harsh and rigid likeness.’”
Bangkok Post: “Fine example for the region.” “One of the world’s most admirable leaders died last week. It is lamentable that the name of Abdurrahman Wahid is less known than the villains and tyrants he fought and overcame. The former president of Indonesia was the major reason his country emerged from brutality and chaos to become the best example of democratic advances in Southeast Asia today. Known both affectionately and respectfully as Gus Dur, Wahid has left a legacy that will be difficult to live up to, but highly deserving of the effort.”
Bild: “Islam is Linked to Terrorism.” “It is an alarm call – from an authoritative source: ‘There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terror and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy.’ That is what the Islamic scholar Yahya C. Staquf said in a recent interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Staquf is not just anyone. In fact, he’s General Secretary of the world’s largest Muslim organization, the Indonesia-based Nahdlatul Ulama (40 million followers).
Staquf—who is, himself, rather conservative—made a number of hard-hitting points that, in Germany, are often dismissed as the ravings of Islamophobia. To quote Staquf’s own words: ‘Western politicians should stop saying that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam.’”
Boston Globe: “Saudi Arabia is destabilizing the world,” by Stephen Kinzer. “Saudi Arabia has been working for decades to pull Indonesia away from moderate Islam and toward the austere Wahhabi form that is state religion in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis’ campaign has been patient, multi-faceted, and lavishly financed. It mirrors others they have waged in Muslim countries across Asia and Africa.”
Boston Globe: “Moderate Muslims reclaim their faith,” by The Editorial Board. “In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim group has embarked on an international effort to repudiate the jihadist teachings and ideology of the Islamic State. The group is Nahdlatul Ulama… Last month, NU released a 90-minute film that vigorously refutes ISIS and its Wahhabist-rooted fundamentalism.”
Boston Globe: “Defeating Islamist Extremism,” by syndicated columnist Jeff Jacoby. A “powerful reminder that… we will not win the war against radical Islam without Muslim allies like [LibForAll patron and advisor Abdurrahman] Wahid.”
Canadian Jewish News: “Faith Leaders Condemn Terrorism at Bali Conference,” by Sarah Kraft. “Tolerance in many parts of the world needs a religious basis,” explains Rabbi Daniel Landes. Having that basis “strikes a very deep chord with people.”
Carolina Alumni Review: “Meditations on Moderate Islam,” by Lucy Hood. “C. Holland Taylor ‘78… is a director and founder of a Winston-Salem-based non-profit called LibForAll, which combats Islamic extremism by providing support to moderate and liberal Muslim leaders around the world. ‘Our goal,’ he says, ‘is to help ensure the global triumph of a pluralistic and tolerant understanding of Islam, at peace with itself and the modern world.’”
Casper-Star Tribune: “Anathematizing the assassins,” by David Wendt. “Our best contribution to the process of ‘anathematizing’ religious extremism, as [C. Holland] Taylor suggests, is the patient engagement of moderates in the region and the cultivation of attitudes of tolerance within communities from which potential terrorists are likely to draw their support. Then, instead of sheltering and nurturing terrorists, these communities can discourage and deter them through the force of community norms.”
Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College: “Preventing Violent Radicalization and Terrorism: The Case of Indonesia,” by Magnus Ranstorp. A year-long study conducted by CATS on behalf of SIDA (the Swedish Foreign Aid Agency) reports that “The LibForAll Foundation (LibForAll) is a particularly interesting non-governmental actor that is able to create networks and promote effective messages and initiatives in various constellations…. LibForAll has been exceptional in a regional context for issues involving innovative forms and communicating the message of anti-extremism. One guiding star in these efforts has been selecting methods with maximum impact and that reach the largest possible audience….”
Channel News Asia: “World’s largest Muslim youth organisation calls for re-examination of Islamic text,” by Amy Chew. “The world’s largest Muslim youth organisation Gerakan Pemuda Ansor (GP Ansor)—the youth wing of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation Nadlatul Ulama (NU)—on Monday (May 22) called for a re-examination of Islamic text to adapt it to modern civilisation.”
Channel News Asia: “Study claims Islamic party is spreading radical, extremist ideology in Indonesia.” “Just days before Indonesians go to the polls, a study has been released charging that an Islamic party is spreading radical and extremist ideology—undermining the country’s moderate Islamic tradition. The research will soon be published in a book titled ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: the Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia.’ …the findings will certainly have some bearing on the country’s politics.”
Christian Science Monitor: “After Osama bin Laden’s death, time for a new poster child for Islam,” by Hedieh Mirahmadi and Mehreen Farooq. “…In Indonesia, Lib for All, a community education NGO, teamed up with Indonesian rock star Ahmad Dhani to produce songs against intolerance and radicalism. Their album, ‘Warriors of Love’ sold 7 million copies.”
Christianity Today: “The World’s Biggest Muslim Organization Wants to Protect Christians,” by Jayson Casper. “The first thing that must be done in order to overcome radicalism and terrorism is to be honest,” said Yahya Cholil Staquf of the Nadhlatul Ulama National Board. “There may be elements from Islam that are used as a basis or justification for hardline groups to carry out their actions.”
Commentary: “Islamism and the National Counterterrorism Strategy,” by Michael Rubin. “Although the NSCT [National Strategy for Counterterrorism] uses the term ideology 20 times within a 17-page document, its failure to identify the exact nature of this ideology suggests a continued unwillingness to confront the root cause of terrorism.”
CNN: Indonesian Muslims Denounce Islamist Extremism. This video features remarks by LibForAll Foundation associate, Bayt-ar-Rahmah Director of Religious Affairs and General Secretary to the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council, KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf; and LibForAll Foundation advisor and Research Director of the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS) at the Swedish Defence University, Dr. Magnus Ranstorp, at the 2016 International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders gathering in Jakarta.
CNN: Preaching Religious Tolerance through Rock and Roll. This video profiles legendary Muslim rock star and LibForAll activist Ahmad Dhani’s pioneering work to discredit Islamist extremism. “Where others falter, Dhani delivers… with his music. His message for Americans and President Bush? ‘Just support moderate Islam, and moderate Muslims.’”
Concord Consulting: “NU groups claim success in ‘humanitarian Islam’ push,” by Keith Loveard. “A statement issued by LibForAll on October 24 said extensive media coverage within Germany legitimized public discourse regarding the relationship between terrorism and Islam, accelerating European voters’ abandonment of political parties that refuse to acknowledge any causal relationship between Islamist terrorism and the problematic elements of orthodox Islamic teachings and practice..”
Concord Consulting: “Time for the worm to turn,” by Keith Loveard. “Holland Taylor, head of the LibForAll Foundation, which works to promote a peaceful image of Islam on the international arena, says the NU leader’s statements represent a positive sign in the emergence of NU as a force for stability and an opponent of the posturing of radical groups.”
Concord Review: “Extremists sit deep in Indonesia: Wahid.” “Despite his political troubles, Wahid remains respected worldwide as a leading figure in Indonesia’s tolerant Muslim community. He sits on the boards of many international organizations dedicated to religious tolerance and understanding and, in Indonesia, was a wily fighter for democracy and human rights through the tough years of the Suharto regime. His comments on the creeping inroads of hard-line Islam into mainstream society and the effect it is having are worrying. It has been clear for some time that hard-liners are gaining ground, but Wahid’s analysis, based on his wide network within Indonesian Islam, makes it clear the situation is already far worse than had been feared.”
Corporate Leader: “An Ex-CEO’s Plan for World Peace.” “C. Holland Taylor used to solve business problems as a telecom CEO. Now he’s aiming higher—with a goal of ending religious extremism.”
Daily Mail/AFP: “Indonesia’s ‘militant moderates’ fight religious intolerance,” by AFP. “Clad in camouflage and armed only with their convictions, the paramilitary wing of Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organisation is on a campaign — to crush intolerance and defend the nation’s inclusive brand of Islam.”
Dawn: “The Indonesian way,” by Shada Islam. “Listening to Mr Bisri and reading some chapters of the book, I was convinced, however, that Indonesia’s Muslim scholars have the courage and determination not only to denounce such violence but also to counter it with religious arguments. If true Muslims are to win this battle of ideologies against extremists, they will have to do more to spread their message and work harder to develop counter arguments. Indonesian scholars deserve credit and support and more publicity for embarking on the difficult task. Perhaps one day, Pakistan’s religious scholars will also work as fervently to reclaim Islam from those peddling a distorted version of religion.”
Democracy Digest: “Countering violent extremism: learning from other democracies.” “A leading Indonesian Muslim advocate contends that ‘Terrorism and Islam are Intimately Connected.’ TIME magazine highlights Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf’s July 2017 address to the European Union Council TWP (Terrorism Working Party) in which he stated that ‘jihadists’ goals, doctrines and strategy can be traced to specific elements of orthodox, authoritative Islam and its historic practice…’”
Democracy Digest: “Is Indonesia’s ‘pious democracy’ safe from Islamist extremism?” “‘Pluralism has always been a part of Indonesia’s DNA,’ [Indonesian President] Joko Widodo told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Jakarta. ‘Despite many challenges, Islam in Indonesia has always been a force for moderation.’”
Democracy Digest: “Promoting modernized Islam to counter jihadist ideology.” “Leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama’s youth wing, known as Ansor, say that elements of Shariah, which Muslims consider divine law, are being manipulated by groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to justify terrorist attacks around the world, invoked to rally fighters to battle in the Middle East and elsewhere, and distorted by movements that seek to turn Islam into a political weapon, The New York Times reports…”
Democracy Digest: “In the VORTEX of Countering Extremist Ideology.” “In a new strategic initiative to counter violent extremism, renowned Muslim theologians have joined world-class scholars to produce academically rigorous applied research on ‘the ideology of religious hatred, supremacy and violence that animates Islamist terrorism.’”
Democracy Digest: “Indonesia’s civil Islam under threat?” “The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and resurgence of Wahhabi/Salafi groups in the wake of the Arab awakening highlights the urgent need for ‘a renaissance of Islamic pluralism, tolerance and critical thinking,’ according to two leading commentators.”
Democracy Digest: “Democratic reformer and advocate of civil Islam dies,” by Michael Allen. “Wahid, known by his nickname Gus Dur, was a democratic reformer and advocate of moderate Islam. ‘He was one of the greatest thinkers and philosophers of Islam in Indonesia.’”
Democracy Digest: “Indonesia’s election a triumph of pragmatism over ideology, moderate Muslims over radical Islamists,” by Michael Allen. “The Libforall Foundation is one of the rare success stories of an initiative in which moderate and liberal Muslims—too often the silent and disorganized majority—have organized effectively to counter radical Islamist groups by promoting democracy and tolerance.”
Denver Post: “Muslim Rocker: Bonds Trump Bombs,” by Bruce Finley. The former fundamentalist tells a U.S. defense forum that military force alone won’t change hearts or deter terrorists.
Detik.com: Ahmad Dhani’s visit to the U.S. on behalf of LibForAll Foundation generates widespread media coverage in Indonesia, including dozens of print and television reports, such as this article which appeared in Indonesia’s largest news portal, detik.com.
Deutsche Welle: “Ex-President Gus Dur’s vision for democratic Islam in Indonesia.” “With so many legacies, it is not a surprise that Gus Dur is loved by the Indonesian people, and still influences Indonesia today. At a time when the world is challenged by Islamism and Islamophobia, Gus Dur’s views and works would be a source of inspiration that indeed Islam is part of the world, and can play its vital role to fulfill the dream of the Prophet Muhammad: Islam is a blessing for the universe (Islam Rahmatan li al-Alamin).”
Die Welt: “Konferenz auf Bali gegen Holocaust-Leugner,” (Conference in Bali Against Holocaust Deniers) by Sophie Mühlmann. “Indonesia is making an effort to uphold its tolerant and secular image. The world’s most populous Muslim nation has, for an entire day, become a showplace for a hitherto unique religious conference: the gathering on the holiday island of Bali concerned itself entirely with religious tolerance and recognizing Nazi persecution of Jews as an historical reality. Indonesia thereby consciously seeks to distance itself from fundamentalist and radical spirits.”
Epoch Times: “Drones Will Remain, Despite Controversies” by Kremena Krumova. “‘Drones are a stopgap measure employed by Western governments that have not yet developed the insight, the will, or the ability to address the threat of Islamist ideology,’ wrote Taylor. And that is where the attention should be focused, Taylor said. ‘The most effective means to counter Islamist terrorism is to marginalize and discredit the ideology that motivates it. Without discrediting Islamist ideology among Muslim populations, there will always be a ready pool of new recruits eager to obtain martyrdom while committing acts of terrorism.’”
Epoch Times: “A Guide to Understanding Terrorism,” by Kremena Krumova. “…[A]ccording to Taylor, terrorist organizations are still not the biggest threat. The real danger comes, Taylor says, from the countries with Islamist governments—like the Shi’ite government of Iran, or the Sunni governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Sudan. ‘Islamist governments pose a greater threat than current jihadist groups,’ Taylor says, ‘because they not only fund these jihadist groups, but also control the repressive apparatus of a state and its financial resources, which they use to propagate Islamist ideology worldwide.’”
Foreign Policy: “God needs no defense,” by Endy Bayuni. “‘Those who claim to defend God, Islam, or the Prophet are thus either deluding themselves or manipulating religion for their own mundane and political purposes,’ wrote Wahid, who died in 2009. Wahid, in his article, addressed the issue of freedom of speech, which many Muslim leaders say has been abused to encourage insults of their God, religion, and the Prophet Mohammed: ‘Defending freedom of expression is by no means synonymous with personally countenancing or encouraging disrespect towards other’s religious beliefs, but it does imply greater faith in the judgment of God, than that of man.’”
Foreign Service Journal: “Focus on Political Islam – A Tradition of Tolerance in Indonesia Offers Hope,” by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid and C. Holland Taylor. “With its traditions of religious pluralism and tolerance, Indonesia and its civil society are ideally positioned to serve as mediators, helping to remove the poison of religious hatred that has long afflicted the Middle East. By integrating its rich spiritual traditions with the best of modern practices, Indonesian Islam can serve as a model for Islamic civilization worldwide and help inspire a similar renaissance of Islamic spirituality and tolerance in other parts of our troubled world.”
Fox News: “One Man’s Fight Against Terrorists,” by Rabbi Abraham Cooper. “[A]t a multi-faith conference in Bali co-sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance and the LibForAll Foundation, [a]n audience of Indonesian political leaders, Muslim and Hindu teachers, and religious figures representing five religions quietly wept, as Febby, along with Hindu, Muslim and Jewish survivors of suicide bombings in Indonesia and Israel shared their desperate struggles to reclaim lives stolen by terrorists who justified their crimes in the name of God.”
Fox News/Singapore Straits Times: “Leaders Take on Tsunami of Religious Hate,” by Abraham Cooper and Fred Balitzer. “The tsunami of violence and terror swamping the Middle East is propelled by threats from leaders justifying hate in the name of God…. In the midst of the din of extremism and hate, where are moderate leaders of Islam? Well, last week we found a few, and in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine: “Jihadists as the Elite Troops of Islam,” by Suzanne Schröter. “Progressive Muslims such as Saida Keller-Messahli, Elham Manea, Abdel-Hakim Ourghi, Ahmad Mansour and, most recently, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf—General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 August)—have long demanded that [Germany] confront the ideas that legitimize violence, which circulate so freely among Muslim associations here. The fact that nearly all the assassins [involved in terrorist attacks] had a clear affiliation with a mosque, and drew their ideology of hatred from sources that are not confined to secret internet chat rooms, makes this demand all the more urgent.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine: “Terrorism and Islam are Intimately Connected: A Conversation with Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of Indonesia’s Largest Muslim Organization,” by Marco Stahlhut. “Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a crystal clear relationship between fundamentalism, terror and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot attain final victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam. Radical Islamic movements are nothing new. They’ve appeared again and again throughout our own history in Indonesia. The West must stop ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to ‘Islamophobia.’ Or do people want to accuse me—an Islamic scholar—of being an Islamophobe, too?”
Frankfurter Allgemeine: “Technisch hat der IS zehn Jahre Vorsprung,” by Jonas Jansen. “Die Medienmaschine des IS läuft effizient und professionell. Die Hoheit im Netz ist ihm nur schwer streitig zu machen. Doch es gibt Hoffnung, den Terroristen den ideologischen Nährboden zu nehmen.”
Gatra: “NU, Muhammadiyah and Pancasila,” by Ahmad Syaafi Maarif. LibForAll Advisor, Ahmad Syaafi Maarif, writes about his visit with LibForAll co-founders Holland Taylor and former Indonesian president, Abdurrahman Wahid.
The Globalist: “The Two Faces of Islam” presents a key element of LibForAll’s strategy to understand and defeat Islamist extremism, by contrasting the relative strengths of radical Wahhabi Islam and those of non-Wahhabi “Humanitarian Islam.”
The Guardian: “Divorcing fundamentalism,” by Brian Whitaker. “Nasr Abu Zaid was a brave and honest scholar disgracefully persecuted for his attempts to read the Quran historically.”
The Heritage Foundation: “Championing Liberty Abroad to Counter Islamist Extremism,” by Lisa Curtis. What the U.S. Should Do “Work with global organizations that seek to discredit the extremist ideology that fuels terrorism. Several nongovernmental organizations—such as the U.S.-based World Organization for Resource Development and Education, the United Kingdom-based Quilliam Foundation, and the Indonesia-based LibforAll Foundation—seek to work with traditional Muslim communities to counter Islamic radicalism.”
The Heritage Foundation: “U.S.-Indonesia Relations: Build for Endurance, Not Speed,” by Walter Lohman. “The Administration and Congress should support counter-extremism programs in Indonesia. By building and strengthening liberty-minded Muslim networks, media, and school curriculums, organizations like the LibForAll Foundation are working actively to attack Islamism at its ideological roots.”
The Heritage Foundation: “Passing of an Indonesian Giant,” by Walter Lohman. “Indonesia and the world will miss Gus Dur dearly. …he will be remembered as one of its greatest men and hopefully a model for its future.”
The Heritage Foundation: “The Challenge to Religious Liberty in Indonesia,” by Richard G. Kraince. “In an effort to assess the impact and methods of Islamist influence, a consortium of some of Indonesia’s most prominent Islamic leaders, in collaboration with the LibForAll Foundation, recently released a report titled ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: The Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia.’ The group argues that the extremist form of Islam in Indonesia is ‘a virulent ideology, backed by immense funding, and operating in a systematic manner, as transnational Islamic movements and their local agents work nonstop to undermine and ultimately seize control’ of the nation.”
The Heritage Foundation: “Reviving Pakistan’s Pluralist Traditions to Fight Extremism,” by Lisa Curtis and Haider A. H. Mullick. Policy Recommendations “Support nongovernmental efforts to promote religious tolerance and pluralism. U.S. officials should recognize and support important work by nongovernmental organizations in promoting religious pluralism. For example, the LibforAll Foundation has done groundbreaking work in Indonesia by building networks among educators, religious leaders, celebrities, and opinion leaders in promoting religious pluralism. This approach could also be applied in Pakistan.”
Hidayatullah: “It’s the West that Benefits Most from Stigmatizing Wahhabism.” “Since the explosion of the bombs in Kuningan [Jakarta] in July of 2009, the terms Wahhabism and transnationalism have suddenly been on everyone’s lips. Many national television stations and other mass media outlets have been quoting a number of leading national figures about the relationship between terrorist bombs and Wahhabism.
“Whether this is intentional or not, one thing is certain: the assistance of media (especially TV) has caused the term Wahhabi to become a new stigma that is terrorizing many [extremist] Muslim organizations. It may be that those behind the spread of this stigma hope to divide Indonesian Muslims and turn them against each other….
“The people behind this are identical to those who were behind the book The Illusion of an Islamic State…. I can’t stop thinking about LibForAll (which financed and published this project) and how it claims to be liberal and promoting liberalism, but in reality is extremely conservative, sectarian and exclusive, unwilling to tolerate differences [i.e., extremist interpretations of Islam].”
The Huffington Post: “Stirrings of a Humanitarian Islam,” by Kabir Helminski. “It is essential that Western leaders and opinion makers recognize that Islamist extremism and terror arise from the web of complex factors — historical, religious, economic, and political — and that Islam is not a monolithic belief system. Despite the prevalence of the recently promoted Wahhabist mentality, traditional Islam has a long history of humane and tolerant values, and that the great majority of Muslims deserve to be viewed as allies in creating a humane and just world.”
India Currents: “The Other Way to Fight Terrorism,” by Ranjit Souri. “Indonesia is considered by many observers to be the world’s biggest success story with respect to preventing Muslim radicalization and terrorism….And a huge part of that success—and perhaps the key to fighting Islamist extremist terrorism in other parts of the world—lies in the work of LibForAll, an organization The Weekly Standard calls ‘the world’s most potent and innovative anti-extremist network.’ And that work has nothing to do with hunting down and capturing terrorists.”
Indonesian Embassy, Brussels: “Theological Approach is Inevitable in Discussion about Islam and Europe.” “‘Indonesia’s experience proves that moderate values which are voiced by moderate Muslim leaders, including academicians and NGOs, in Indonesia greatly contribute to the counter-radicalism in Indonesia,’ [Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia H.E. Arif Havas Oegroseno] explained, at the same time showing a book titled ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State’ published by the Wahid Institute, LibForAll Foundation and Maarif Institute. The book was a result of research conducted by leading think-tanks in Indonesia and abroad which promote academic and theological aspects. Ambassador Oegroseno further explained that Indonesia’s ability to overcome the political and economic crisis in a relatively short time, and with Indonesia’s stature today, have proven that Islam is compatible with modernization, democracy and human rights.”
IndUS Business Journal: “IndUS Business Journal Awards of Excellence.” LibForAll Vice President, Dr. Ravi Krishnamurthy, received the IndUS Business Journal 2010 Award of Excellence in the category of “Organizations,” for his outstanding role in helping to build LibForAll’s “global counter-extremism network of top Muslim leaders who possess the moral and theological authority to counter radicalization within their societies.”
IndUS Business Journal: “LibForAll pushes on after loss of leader,” by Martin Desmarais. “‘[Wahid] was one of the most remarkable human beings I have ever met … His love for people and humanity shines through in everything he ever did,’ [Krishnamurthy] said. ‘To me personally it is like losing a father-figure … He was somebody who inspired, somebody who was always there.’”
IndUS Business Journal: “Engineering vet finds passion with Muslim nonprofit,” by Martin Desmarai. Profile of LibForAll Vice President, Dr. Ravi Krishnamurthy. “Though his work is now in the nonprofit realm, Krishnamurthy does not look at it any differently than his time spent in the technology world. He believes he brings a ‘unique combination of theology, business and technical expertise’ to LibForAll.”
Institute for Religion and Democracy/Family Security Matters: “Islamist Critiques the Free World Needs to Use,” by Ryan Mauro. “The Illusion of an Islamic State is more of a policy paper than a book. It is the end product of a study where 27 academics traveled across Indonesia and interviewed nearly 600 extremists in order to define the motivations, strategies and weaknesses of Islamists. The authors’ stated goal is to confront the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabism and Hizb ut-Tahrir and turn Indonesia into an ideological launching pad against them…. The book is young, only published in Indonesia in May 2009, but has had a tremendous impact. The project was funded by a single American donor and a Swedish government grant. The Gulf governments, on the other hand, spend billions promoting Islamism. The success of The Illusion of an Islamic State is frustrating in a way. If a relatively small expense could do so much good, then what would happen if real money and support was put behind it?”
Institute of World Politics: “Cultural battlespace: Muslim rockers resist extremism,” by J. Michael Waller. “‘Pop culture is helping to rescue an entire generation of young Muslims from extremists who seek to turn them into ‘holy warriors’ and suicide bombers,’ according to the LibForAll Foundation, a North Carolina-based nonprofit founded and chaired by American telecom executive C. Holland Taylor.”
Inter Press Service News Agency: “Mystical Islam Deters Fundamentalism,” by Alexandra di Stefano Pironti.
International Herald Tribune: “Islamist groups infiltrating many areas, report says.” “Islamist groups originating from Saudi Arabia and Egypt are systematically infiltrating Indonesian mosques, institutes, universities and government, posing an even greater threat to the country than regional terrorist groups, according to a report by the LibForAll Foundation, a non-governmental organization promoting religious tolerance.”
International Herald Tribune: “Bali meeting promotes tolerance in Indonesia.” “Spiritual leaders from around the world met here in Bali on Tuesday to take a stand against religious-inspired violence and to urge other religious leaders to join them. The conference was jointly organized by the Wiesenthal Center, the LibForAll Foundation, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization…”
International Qur’anic Studies Association: “On the Qur’an and Authority, “ by Dr. Ali Mabrook, Deputy Director of Academics at LibForAll’s International Institute of Qur’anic Studies (IIQS), and head of its public policy division, the Center for Contemporary Islam (CCI). In this article, Dr. Mabrook describes how the Qur’an was transformed from a text open to the full range of human inquiry and participation into an instrument of political authority. This politicization of the Qur’an closed the text to free examination and made its interpretation both fixed and absolute. Mabrook argues that the first step in “re-opening” the Qur’an is de-politicizing it.
IslamOnline.net: “Radicals Threat to Moderate Indonesia: Report.” “Indonesia’s moderate practice of Islam is being threatened by radical groups seeking to infiltrate mosques and schools to implement their agenda, a report warned… ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: the Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’ report said radical groups were seeking to gain a foothold in mosques and other institutions by offering services such as financial help or even free cleaning services.”
ISN Security Watch: “Two Reminders From Indonesia,” by Simon Roughneen. “C Holland Taylor is Chairman and CEO of LibForAll which works to support moderate Muslims in Indonesia. He told ISN Security Watch that ‘what is most alarming is the infiltration of Indonesia’s government by extremist Muslims who share the terrorists’ ideology, if not their use of violence to overthrow the Indonesian state.’ Mr Taylor says that Indonesia’s security forces are aware of the link between radical ideology and terrorism, but that covert operators within Government and civil service work to stymie some reform efforts.”
ISN Security Watch: “The Ripples of Ft Hood,” by Shaun Waterman. “The consequences of recognizing the attack as an act of lone wolf terror motivated by Islamic extremism are ‘difficult for many people to acknowledge and address […] they raise uncomfortable questions for us as a society,’ C Holland Taylor of the LibForAll Foundation told ISN Security Watch. Taylor said the implications of recognizing that the enemy in the war on terror was an ideology and its adherents were profound.”
Jackson Hole Weekly: “The Buzz: The soul of Islam.” “LibForAll Foundation CEO and co-founder, C. Holland Taylor came through town earlier this week meeting with local supporters and answering a ton of questions about the threat of radical Islam. Taylor founded LibForAll Foundation (www.LibForAll.org) with former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid to promote a peaceful understanding of Islam and ‘discredit the use of terror’ worldwide.”
Jakarta Globe: “Sahal Mahfudz — Scholar, Activist” by Sumanto Al Qurtuby. “Sahal’s contributions were also crucial in developing new forms of Islamic thought. Since 1984, Sahal led a halaqah (a regular informal meeting for kyais to discuss social-political issues through the lens of Islamic law) whose creative methods of Islamic legal theory and Islamic legal maxims resulted in the production of progressive Islamic ideas and decisions, while at the same time keeping the spirit and essence of Islam as a ‘prophetic religion.’ His concept became known as ‘social fiqh,’ a rational-contextual-based understanding of Islamic law trying to solve contemporary social problems.”
Jakarta Globe: “Central Java Pesantren Reject Islamic State,” by Candra Malick. “Islamic boarding schools across Central Java have vowed to close their doors to a movement advocating the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia, says a leading cleric. A. Mustafa Bisri, a well-known religious leader from Rembang popularly known as Gus Mus, told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday that the outlawed movement, also known as the NII, was directly opposed to the Pancasila, the state ideology.”
Jakarta Globe: “The True Heart of Islam,” by Katrin Figge. “To help overcome intolerance and promote a more pluralistic and inclusive understanding of Islam, the Goethe-Institut in Jakarta has organized ‘Ocean of Revelations,’ an interactive exhibition featuring weekly video screenings, speakers and discussion groups …. The exhibition is a collaborative effort between the LibForAll Foundation, the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service and Alumni portal Deutschland…. ‘Ocean of Revelations’ is also the title of a television series, produced by the LibForAll Foundation, which seeks to highlight Islamic religious authorities and teachings that go against hard-line views. ‘Firmly grounded within the theological and spiritual traditions of Islam itself, this video series is presented by top Muslim leaders who possess the moral and theological authority to successfully adopt a bold stance against religious extremism,’ said Holland Taylor, co-founder and CEO of the LibForAll Foundation.”
Jakarta Globe: “The Enemy Within: Islamic Extremists And Their Dreams of a New Caliphate.” “Truth that is not organized can be defeated by evil that is. So goes an old Sufi saying.” This article highlights LibForAll’s organized strategy, backed by LibForAll Advisors President Abdurrahman Wahid, Ahmad Syafii Maarif and Mustofa Bisri, to counter the spread of Islamic extremists.
Jakarta Globe: “Extremists ‘Infiltrating Mainstream’” by Joe Cochrane. “Throwing a gauntlet down at the feet of radical Islam, a group of mainstream Muslim leaders led by former President Abdurrahman Wahid on Thursday announced the release of a book asserting that Indonesia is being infiltrated by foreign-funded extremists bent on turning the country into an Islamic state.”
The Jakarta Post: “Humanitarian Islam movement begins in East Java.” “A movement to address the contextualization of Islamic teaching, dubbed Humanitarian Islam, has been inaugurated in Jombang, East Java. … ‘It is false and counterproductive to claim that the actions of al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and other such groups have nothing to do with Islam, or merely represent a perversion of Islamic teachings. They are, in fact, outgrowths of Wahhabism and other fundamentalist streams of Sunni Islam,’ [GP Ansor chairman] Yaqut said.”
The Jakarta Post: “E. Java to promote Gus Dur’s grave as tourist attraction,” by Indra Harsaputra. “Tapping into Indonesians’ penchant for spiritual enlightenment, the East Java administration said on Wednesday that it planned to promote the grave of Indonesia’s former president and prominent cleric of the largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid, in Jombang, as a magnet for both domestic and foreign travelers. ‘Between January and May 2012, the number of people visiting Gus Dur’s grave reached 2.75 million. It means that around 550,000 people visit the grave each month, or 18,333 people per day,’ [East Java Tourism Agency chief Jariyanto] said.”
This makes President Wahid’s grave one of the ten most visited pilgrimage sites in the world.
Two of the many popular tributes to President Wahid, which emerged spontaneously in the years following his death in 2009: Gus Dur: Champion of the People and Gitu Saja: Koq Repot (That’s Just How It Is: No Problem).
The Jakarta Post: “Islamic ideology is ‘more dangerous than terrorism’,” by Endy M. Bayuni. “Amidst the euphoria over the killing of Osama bin Laden by the United States, a new book on Islam in Indonesia is cautioning Washington that an ideology that preaches hatred and violence is much more dangerous than the terrorist acts that Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network posed. The Illusion of an Islamic State however makes it clear that Islam itself is ‘a blessing for all creation’ (rahmatan lil-alamin) and that people in the West, as many Indonesians do, must make a clear distinction between Islam as a religion, which preaches peace and tolerance, and Islam as a political ideology, which preaches hatred and intolerance.”
The Jakarta Post: “Discourse: Islam as an ideology is a threat to Islam itself,” by Endy M. Bayuni. “K.H. Mustofa Bisri, an influential Muslim cleric and a respected figure in Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest Islamic organization, visited Brussels and Washington recently to launch the English edition of the book The Illusion of an Islamic State. Gus Mus, as he is popularly known, wrote in the epilogue to the book that he advocated learning as a way of countering the threat of Islamic radicalism. While in Washington, he spoke with The Jakarta Post’s senior editor Endy M. Bayuni about the threat from Islamic political ideology.”
The Jakarta Post: “The blind man with 20/20 vision: A tribute to Abdurrahman Wahid,” by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “By the time I met him in the spring of 2007, his eyesight was failing, and his kidneys were not far behind. Yet, it took only a half hour, sitting with him and his family around their dining room table in Jakarta, to come under Gus Dur’s spell. With the passing of Abdurrahman Wahid we have lost a leader with crystal clear vision of Religion’s true role in the lives of individuals and nations. Let the memory of this good man help us take back the day from extremism and hate.”
The Jakarta Post: “The voice in the wilderness,” by Anand Krishna. “The ‘voice’ is gone. And we are left with wilderness. Gus Dur, the voice that made the wilderness less terrifying, shall no longer be heard. His was the voice of hope, the voice that kept the flame of hope burning in many hearts…. The echo of each and every word he ever uttered shall remain here. Right here, with you and with me—with all of us.”
The Jakarta Post: “PKS denounces report on radicalism.” “The report—titled ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: The Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’—was jointly published by the Wahid Institute, the Maarif Institute and the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika movement. The report said members of the PKS and the HTI were ‘infiltrating’ moderate Muslim groups and institutions such as schools, to press for their agenda.”
The Jakarta Post: “Major Islamic groups angry over scholar’s treatment,” by Muhhammad Nafik. “[Indonesia’s] two largest Muslim organizations criticized Wednesday the Religious Affairs Ministry for barring a liberal Egyptian Islamic thinker from addressing an international youth conference in East Java.”
Jerusalem Post: “Indonesian peace delegation meets with Peres.” “Despite the lack of formal relations between Israel and Indonesia, a five-member Indonesian peace delegation met with President Shimon Peres… The delegation spent a week in the country under the joint aegis of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the LibForAll Foundation, which promotes the culture of liberty and tolerance.”
Jerusalem Post: “Mobilizing Islam’s Silent Majority.” Chairman and CEO C. Holland Taylor shares LibForAll Foundation’s strategy for mobilizing Islam’s silent majority, in order to offer “a compelling alternate vision of Islam as a religion of Divine love and tolerance that banishes the fanatical ideology of hatred to the darkness from which it emerged.”
The Jerusalem Report: “Death of a Hero,” by Mona Eltahawy. “The world is a lonelier place when we lose a hero. When I learned of Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid’s passing on July 5, my tears mourned the loss of a man who spent the past 14 years exiled from his beloved Egypt because his courageous work intimidated the lesser minds of fundamentalists.”
Jewish Telegraph Agency: “With Rock Music, Islamic Teachings, Ex-premier Fights for Moderate Islam.” “Wahid says moderate Islam stands a greater chance of triumphing over Islamic radicalism once Western leaders stop trying to accommodate Islamic extremists.”
Jewish Week: “Toward a Kinder, Gentler Islam.” “A former telecom CEO and the former Indonesian president look to expand their fight against religious extremism in the Muslim world.”
Kansas City Star: “Muslims fighting terrorism,” by Bill Tammeus. “[T]oday I want to introduce you to an effort to mobilize people described as ‘moderate or liberal’ Muslims to stand against the kind of terrorism represented by the late Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida followers.”
Katholisch: “Identify Problems Clearly,” by Volker Resing. “Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world. Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf is an Islamic scholar and General Secretary of a large Muslim organization in his country. In a recent interview published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), he refers to the relationship between terrorism and ‘basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy.’ The West must stop ‘ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to Islamophobia,’ says Yahya Cholil Staquf. The Muslim scholar is not saying this to strengthen anti-Islamic sentiment in the West, but rather, to facilitate co-existence between those of different faiths. These problems [within Islam] must be clearly identified, in order to permanently improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. ‘A problem that is not acknowledged cannot be solved.’ That is very true—even amidst the heat of a nationwide political campaign.”
Knack: “Natuurlijkis er een verband tussen terreur en islam,” by Marko Stahlhut. “Yahya Cholil Staquf is een prominente figuur binnen Nahdlatul Ulama, een Indonesische moslimvereniging die naar eigen zeggen circa 50 miljoen soen – nitische gelovigen vertegenwoordigt. Nahdlatul Ulama predikt een gematigde boodschap van universele liefde. Maar er bestaat volgens de secretaris-generaal ook heel duidelijk een andere islam.”
Kompasiana: “If God is the All-Encompassing, Does He Need to Be Defended, to the Point that We’re Willing to Behave Inhumanely Towards Our Fellow Human Beings? ‘God Needs No Defense,’ Replies K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid” (article in Indonesian). “Some time ago I wrote an article about [Geert Wilders’] film Fitna, which aroused such controversy…. Disappointed and angered by the threat to our nation’s religious pluralism [posed by radical Islam], I felt enormous inner turmoil and was thirsting for answers. Suddenly, at two in the morning, I accidentally came across a question on the internet—“God is the All-Encompassing. Does He really need people to furiously defend Him, provoking discord, massacres and the loss of our sense of common humanity?—which led me to LibForAll Foundation’s essay by KH. Abdurrahman Wahid, “God Needs No Defense.” After carefully reading it, sentence by sentence, I felt as if bathed in fresh spring water…. Gus Dur’s essay became a key source of inspiration, helping me to understand and interpret everything that happens in my life, and the world in which we live.”
Kompasiana: “Gus Mus’s Monumental Step: Launching The Illusion of an Islamic State in Europe.” “Now [Gus Mus] has translated this distinguished book into English, with the title, The Illusion of an Islamic State. His noble objective is to inspire not only Indonesians, but people throughout the world. In this way he is giving of himself, and sincerely inviting the ‘citizens of this earth’ to know and understand each another. To recognize that all human beings are truly our brothers and sisters, in spirit. And to realize that although there will always be conflict, this very fact obliges us to invite one another to find solutions together, cooperating in a spirit of brotherhood.”
LA Times/Reuters: “Former Indonesian President Calls Upon Muslims to Speak Out Against Extremism During U.S. Visit.” “President Wahid has assumed the mantle of leadership of an international movement dedicated to stemming the tide of radical Islam and reclaiming authentic Islam from those who have corrupted its teachings and used them to promote a repressive political ideology, religious intolerance and terrorism. The lynchpin of this movement is the LibForAll Foundation, an Indonesian-U.S.- and Netherlands-based organization that President Wahid co-founded to propagate models of a prosperous, moderate and tolerant Islam, and to support moderate and progressive Muslims in their efforts to promote a culture of liberty and tolerance.”
Lifestyles Magazine: “Peace, Love, and Understanding,” by Robert K. Epstein. “If the world’s major religions ever learn to coexist, they may have C. Holland Taylor to thank. ‘….Holland was on the cutting edge in the Islamic world,’ recalls the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who was introduced to Taylor by Mizel. ‘He impressed me immediately with the depth of his contacts as well as his realistic approach: This was no pie-in-the-sky person who thought he could change the world just like that. Kudos to Holland for being a man of clarity, courage and vision. I am certain it is not easy for him to work within the Muslim world with a kippah-wearing Jew.’”
The Malaysian Insider/Singapore Straits Times: “Extremists ‘Infiltrating Indonesia’.” “Islamic extremists are infiltrating all levels of society in Indonesia, threatening its traditions of religious pluralism and tolerance, warned a new report backed by moderate Muslim leaders. Abdurrahman [Wahid] set up the LibForAll Foundation with American businessman C. Holland Taylor. The foundation conducted two years of research for the report, ‘The Illusion Of An Islamic State: The Expansion Of Transnational Islamist Movements To Indonesia.’”
Middle East Institute: “Jakarta’s Political Turmoil: Post-storm Thoughts on the Moderate Muslim Mainstream,” by Giora Eliraz. “There are preliminary indications of a growing awareness within the huge moderate Muslim mainstream of the risks and challenges represented by the recent events that shook the nation’s capital. Since April the NU has spoken more loudly about the growing challenge of extremism and has taken a more proactive approach to advancing a moderate, inclusive, and moderate vision.”
National Journal: “American Muslims: Reformers v. Revivalists,” by Neil Munro. “Other analysts are more optimistic. ‘Islam is whatever people think it is,’ said C. Holland Taylor, a former telecommunications executive who now helps the LibForAll Foundation, which supports moderate and progressives in Muslim-majority countries worldwide. In the past decade, Taylor has worked with liberal-minded Muslims—including Abdurrahman Wahid, Indonesia’s president from 1999 to 2001—to promote a tolerant form of Islam, often in the face of determined opposition from harder-line revivalist groups that are frequently funded by Arab states. The reform message can succeed among ordinary Muslims, Taylor said, because ‘people are longing to do this.’”
National Review: “Islam or Islamist?,” by Andrew McCarthy. “On the international stage, the LibForAll Foundation has just released an English translation of The Illusion of the Islamic State, a compendium edited by the late Islamic scholar Abdurrahman Wahid. Once the president of democratic Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country by population, the influential Wahid also led Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, with over 40 million members. NU and other Indonesian moderates are clashing directly with the Muslim Brotherhood, arguing that Islamic scripture does not require the establishment of a caliphate or the imposition of sharia jurisprudence (i.e., fiqh) as governing law. Sharia, they contend, is a matter of private conscience.”
National Review: “Toward a Muslim Solzhenitsyn,” by Matthew Schaffer. “The essence of Islam—if there is any such thing—is, of course, untestable and debatable. But the religion certainly isn’t going away anytime soon. Nurturing its liberal, pluralistic, and non-supremacist strains may be the most important thing the West can do, for the welfare of Islam’s millions of followers and for the West’s own survival. LibForAll is leading the way.”
National Review: “Burning the Koran,” by Nina Shea and Paul Marshall. “[B]lasphemy rules can touch on every area of human endeavor. At stake are the freedoms of religion and expression that lie at the heart of our liberal democracy…. Furthermore, within Islam itself, compliance with these demands would tip the balance in favor of fundamentalists and extremists, since reformers would be attacked for their views even in the relative safe haven of the West. The late Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid warned that such efforts ‘play directly into the hands of fundamentalists, who wish to avoid all criticism of their attempts to narrow the scope of discourse regarding Islam, and to inter 1.3 billion Muslims in a narrow, suffocating chamber of dogmatism.’”
National Review: “The Muslim World’s Hope, and Ours,” by syndicated columnist Mona Charen, profiles LibForAll co-founders K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid and C. Holland Taylor along with activist Ahmad Dhani, and “their worldwide effort to counter radical Islam by enlisting moderate Muslims” to “contend with the radical extremists on their own chosen turf—the true meaning of Islam.”
Nettavision: “The world’s largest Muslim organization to combat Islamic State,” by Thomas Paust. “The renowned terrorism expert, Magnus Ranstorp, will cooperate with the world’s largest Muslim organization in the global ideological struggle against the Islamic State (IS). Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is an Indonesian organization with 50 million members. ‘They’re going to create a platform against IS, and I’m going to be involved in it. My role will be clarified in a few weeks,’ says Ranstorp, who is a terrorism researcher at the Swedish National Defense Academy.”
New Europe: “The Illusion of an Islamic State: A book that makes history,” by Dionyssios Kefalakos. “There are very few books that can be called ‘the book’. Undoubtedly ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State’ is one of them.”
News from Bangladesh: “Transnational Islamic Extremism–Myth Or Reality?” “A report compiled by three reputable Indonesian foundations says that the moderate form of Islam in Indonesia is being undermined by extremists who are infiltrating moderate Muslim groups and institutions in order to gain support for an Islamic state or international caliphate. The Report, entitled ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: the Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’ has just been published jointly by the Wahid Institute, the Maarif Institute and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).”
The New Republic: “Some Common Sense About Peace,” by New Republic editor Marty Peretz, praises K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid and Abdul A’la’s Wall Street Journal op-ed for its “strong, clear and complex” exposition of the obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian Peace, and how best to move forward. Peretz’s conclusion: “May their wisdom flourish.”
Newsweek: “The Jihad Against the Jihadis,” by Fareed Zakaria, cites the CATS study and, without naming LibForAll, refers to its decisive role in helping to counter radicalization: “Perhaps the most successful country to combat jihadism has been the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia. In 2002 that country seemed destined for a long and painful struggle with the forces of radical Islam. The nation was rocked by terror attacks, and a local Qaeda affiliate, Jemaah Islamiah, appeared to be gaining strength. But eight years later, JI has been marginalized and main-stream political parties have gained ground, all while a young democracy has flowered after the collapse of the Suharto dictatorship.
“Magnus Ranstorp of Stockholm’s Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies recently published a careful study examining Indonesia’s success in beating back extremism. The main lesson, he writes, is to involve not just government but civil society as a whole, including media and cultural figures who can act as counterforces to terrorism.”
Newsweek/Washington Post: “Muslims Speak Out” forum highlights the wisdom of LibForAll co-founder K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid, who advises Muslims “to unite in rejecting the use of Islam as an ideology, or a weapon to violate the sanctity of Your Islam and mine,” while LibForAll advisor Dr. Abdul Munir Mulkhan calls upon religious leaders to wage jihad against violence, “to protect the rights and dignity of all human beings, regardless of their religious faith or lack thereof. This is the sacred duty of those who adhere to all religious faiths, and the true jihad that the world still awaits.”
New York Times: “Indonesians Seek to Export a Modernized Vision of Islam,” by Joe Cochrane. “Leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama’s youth wing, known as Ansor, say that elements of Shariah, which Muslims consider divine law, are being manipulated by groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to justify terrorist attacks around the world, invoked to rally fighters to battle in the Middle East and elsewhere, and distorted by movements that seek to turn Islam into a political weapon.”
New York Times: “Jakarta Protest, Tied to Faith, May Have Deeper Links to Secular Politics,” by Joe Cochrane. “‘The protest really was a picture of how radicalism is way more dangerous to Indonesia than other Muslim-majority nations,’ said Yahya Cholil Staquf, the secretary general to the supreme council of Indonesia’s widely respected Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization. ‘The masses have this negative feeling toward Ahok, and all this political maneuvering has been increasing their negative emotions toward him,’ he said, referring to Mr. Basuki by his nickname and describing the sentiments of protesters, most of whom were from outside Jakarta. ‘This makes Muslim leaders, who are in fact moderate, afraid to speak out against it, because they are afraid of the masses.’”
New York Times: “From Indonesia, a Muslim Challenge to the Ideology of the Islamic State,” by Joe Cochrane. “‘We are directly challenging the idea of ISIS, which wants Islam to be uniform, meaning that if there is any other idea of Islam that is not following their ideas, those people are infidels who must be killed,’ said Yahya Cholil Staquf, general secretary to the N.U. supreme council. ‘We will show that is not the case with Islam.’”
New York Times: “Indonesia’s Political Landscape Offers Path for Egypt,” by Aubrey Belford. “With its tight internal organization, the PKS is as much a social movement as a political party, said C. Holland Taylor, the Jakarta-based chairman of LibForAll Foundation, which promotes moderate Islam worldwide. As such, Mr. Taylor said, the party has been a key factor in the rise of a more austere, intolerant form of Islam in Indonesia. This has already been reflected in legislation…. ‘If you’re a citizen of a country and your government is promulgating laws that deny you freedom and is using the repressive apparatus of the state to enforce those laws, the government is more dangerous than some random terrorist that’s never going to reach you personally,’ Mr. Taylor said.”
New York Times: “Nasr Abu Zayd, Who Stirred Debate on Koran, Dies at 66.” “Islam, Dr. Abu Zayd said, should be understood in terms of its historical, geographic and cultural background, adding that ‘pure Islam’ did not exist and that the Koran was ‘a collection of discourses.’”
New York Times: “The Passing of a Reformer,” by Philip Bowring. “Mr. Wahid was the single most important figure not merely in Indonesia’s transition from Suharto’s centralized autocracy to a decentralized democracy but in ensuring that the new democracy was committed to religious and ethnic pluralism…. Abdurrahman Wahid’s passing reminds one of how badly the Islamic political world needs more people like him, and how badly many in the Arab and Iranian worlds need to learn from their more numerous Muslim brethren east of the Indus.”
New York Times: “Islam, Virgins and Grapes,” by Nicholas D. Kristof. “One of the scholars at the Notre Dame conference whom I particularly admire is Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, an Egyptian Muslim who argues eloquently that if the Koran is interpreted sensibly in context then it carries a strong message of social justice and women’s rights. …Dr. Abu Zayd is helping the LibForAll Foundation, which promotes moderate interpretations throughout the Islamic world.”
New York Times: “Islamic Group Gains Power in Indonesia,” by Peter Gelling, explores the growing prominence of a group called the Council of Ulemas—whose leaders have increasingly espoused a radical form of Islam—who has worked to establish itself as an assertive political force. Advocates of religious tolerance worry that the council’s new clout could signal the start of religious radicalization in a country known for its moderate brand of Islam.
Partnership for Peace Consortium: “Tabletop exercise takes whole of society approach to foreign terrorist fighter threat.” “Mr. C Holland Taylor, co-founder, chairman and CEO of the LibForAll Foundation—a leading NGO developing counter-extremism strategies worldwide—remarked on the PfPC’s unique ability to ‘assemble people from a diverse set of backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, and religions,’ and that ‘the PfPC succeeded at facilitating a frank and honest discussion about the threat posed by violent extremism and did so in a manner that is conducive to developing a societal consensus necessary to meet this threat.’”
PJMedia: “Promoting Moderate Islam: An Interview with Holland Taylor,” by Ruthie Blum Leibowitz. “‘Our goal is to marginalize, discredit and defeat the ideology of radical Islamism,’ says C. Holland Taylor, the chairman and CEO of the LibForAll Foundation, ‘and to transform the understanding that Muslims have of their religious obligations.’”
Project Syndicate: “Indonesia’s Democratic Islam,” by Alfred Stepan and Jeremy Menchik. “Syafi’i Ma’arif, the former chair of Muhammadiyah, has made pluralist arguments, grounded in the Koran, against blind obedience to Islamic classical jurisprudence. Abdurrahman Wahid, the former chair of NU, for decades advocated respect for religious pluralism, and was pivotal in mobilizing democratic opposition to the authoritarian leader Suharto…. Almost none of the writings of the intellectuals who have been crucial to democratization and women’s rights in Indonesia—for example, Abdurrahman Wahid, Nurcholish Madjid, Syafi’i Ma’arif, Siti Musdah Mulia, and Maria Ansor Ulfah—has been translated into English. Perhaps more unfortunately, none has been translated into Arabic.”
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) airs “Struggle for the Soul of Islam: Indonesia” as part of its “America at a Crossroads” series. LibForAll CEO Holland Taylor served as an advisor on the film, which features LibForAll activist Ahmad Dhani and LibForAll associate Yenny Wahid.
Qantara.de: “Indonesian Television Series ‘Ocean of Revelations’ Opposes the Political Instrumentalization (of Islam),” by Ulrike Hummel. “Rauf Ceylan, professor of Religious Studies at the University of Osnabrück, thought highly of the first episode of Ocean of Revelations to be screened in Germany. ‘It was very impressive to see the rich diversity of Islam conveyed in word and image, and especially (to hear) the voices from Indonesia,’ explained Ceylan…. What impressed the Islamic scholar more than anything else was the film’s depiction of Islam’s spiritual depths, which were accentuated again and again, along with its mystical components. ‘And it is tragic that precisely this Islam, this stream of Islam, which represents over 90% of Muslims, is completely overlooked in public debates (about Islam).’”
RadicalIslam.org: “C. Holland Taylor: Discrediting Extremism,” by Ryan Mauro. “Muslims who oppose the Islamist agenda are subject to enormous grief, intimidation and often blood-chilling violence. It is only natural that those who have the moral courage to accept these consequences are often associated with the profound spiritual traditions of Islam known as Sufism. Yet, it absolutely false to claim that Sufism is considered heretical by mainstream Muslim authorities, or even to assume that Sufism constitutes a distinct sect within Islam. Sufism is woven into the very fabric of Islam itself, for the inner, mystical dimensions of Islam complement its outer practice and give life to what would otherwise be mere, empty formalities, easily harnessed by ideologues to achieve their worldly objectives.”
Reset Dialogues on Civilizations: “Farewell to Zayd, Liberal Islamic Theologian,” by Biancarlo Bosetti. “Should the [victory] of democracy ever be achieved throughout the Muslim world, the history that will be written will have to linger at length on this small man with his frail health, who held open the gates of ijhtihad and the interpretation of the Koran.”
Reset Dialogues on Civilizations: “Persecuted for ‘my’ Koran.” Nasr Abu Zayd talks with Giancarlo Bosetti. “How can your perspective be supported among Muslim scholars? Do you consider there is the possibility of creating a network of people sharing the same view?” “Yes, it is quite possible and plausible. Currently, within the Liberty for all Foundation (www.libforall.org) an international network is emerging. As one of the main programs of the Foundation, both the approach and methodology of modern understanding and interpretation of the Qur’ân and the Prophet[’s] tradition will be taught, and disseminated online and by video/audio modes of communication.”
Reset Dialogues on Civilizations: “Problems in the Islamic world cannot be blamed exclusively on Islam.” Nasr Abu Zayd interviewed by Nina zu Fürstenberg. “Abu Zayd explains that, contrary to widespread belief, within the Muslim world there are many reformists and organisations that spread the principles of liberalism, equality, democracy and human rights. Unfortunately, however, the West appears not to acknowledge this and instead of contributing to strengthen these tendencies, it tends to emphasise Islam’s negative aspects and, in particular, its links with terrorism. The problem—continued Abu Zayd—does not lie in Islam or in the Koran, but rather in the stubbornness that characterises extremists in interpreting the Holy Book in a rigid and literal manner, without allowing for any kind of critical debate. Applying hermeneutics to the Koran would instead facilitate its understanding and a more current interpretation, opening the way to a modernisation of the text without corrupting its sacredness.”
Reset Dialogues on Civilizations: “Taliban Law is Not Koranic Law,” by Nasr Abu-Zayd. “The Shari‘a espoused by those radical groups, and even by other groups who like to present themselves as moderates, is nothing but the legal articulation of similar groups in medieval Islam, based on their own understanding and interpretation of the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition. Compared with the legal discourse of the early pioneers of Islamic law, this reclaimed Shari‘a is very distant from the obvious meaning of the foundational sources of Islam.”
Reuters: “Liberal Koran expert dies in Egypt, after exile,” by Alistair Sharp and Marwa Awad. “‘Nasr Abu Zayd is a heroic figure, a scholar who has risked everything to restore the traditions of intellectual inquiry and tolerance that for so long characterized Islamic culture,’ wrote Philip Jenkins, a professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University. Abu Zayd critiqued the use of religion to exert political power…. ‘I am anti-dogma,’ he told Reuters in 2008. ‘It’s a meaning produced by humans, and I don’t find that I am going outside the domain of religion if I challenge this dogma.’”
Reuters: “Radical Islam targets Indonesia institutions-report.” “Indonesia’s tradition of practising a moderate form of Islam is being undermined by extremists whose agenda includes the creation of an Islamic state or international caliphate, a report said on Thursday. ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: the Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’ is jointly published by the Wahid Institute, the Maarif Institute and the Bhinneka Tunngal Ika (“Unity in Diversity”) movement.”
Reuters: “Indonesia Conference Denounces Holocaust Denial,” by Fitri Wulandari. “Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, who is a patron of the LibForAll organisation aimed at countering Muslim extremism, told the conference that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as a ‘myth’, was falsifying history.”
Rolling Stone Magazine: “In the Name of Love” profiles LibForAll activist Ahmad Dhani and his group Dewa’s best-selling new album, Republic of Love. Renowned Sunni Muslim cleric and former Indonesian president Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid has called the album’s hit single, Warriors of Love, “a musical fatwa against religious hatred and terrorism.”
Sabili: “Ideological Warfare is More Powerful, and Dangerous, Than Bombs.” “Like the change of seasons, heavy rain always begins with an initial shower. The enemies of Islam never cease in their efforts to destroy the Muslim community. They use not only physical methods, but ideological warfare as well. They regard this methodology as more inexpensive and effective. Just look at what happened before the bombing of the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels. The previous month we were ‘treated’ to the book Illusion of an Islamic State, which attacks political Islam.”
San Francisco Sentinel: “American Muslims Speak Out Against Enforcement of Shari‘ah Law in America.” “A coalition of diverse American Muslim leaders has announced support for a proposed bill in the Michigan State Assembly, HB 4679, that is intended to bar Michigan courts from enforcing any foreign law, if doing so violates any rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and/or the state of Michigan’s constitution.”
Serviam Magazine: “Muslim Pop Artists Lead Youthful Resistance to Islamic Extremism,” by J. Michael Waller, describes pop culture efforts such as LibForAll’s Musical Jihad against religious hatred and terrorism. “…the most popular rocker in the world’s most populous Muslim country had already been building a cultural resistance movement of his own. ‘Pop culture is helping to rescue an entire generation of young Muslims from extremists who seek to turn them into ‘holy warriors’ and suicide bombers.’”
Sicherheit Heute (Security Today): Interview with one of the world’s leading Qur’anic scholars, LibForAll Foundation Advisor Dr. Nasr Hamid Abu-Zayd, on the integration of Muslims into European society, and the modernization of Islamic thought. This German online magazine is read widely by counter-terrorism and homeland security experts.
South China Morning Post/AFP: “The Indonesian Muslim ‘cyberwarriors’ who are battling Islamic State online.” “A group of Indonesian “cyberwarriors” sit glued to screens, as they send out messages promoting a moderate form of Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Armed with laptops and smartphones, some 500 members of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU)—one of the world’s biggest Muslim organisations—are seeking to counter the Islamic State group’s extremist messages.”
South China Morning Post: “Scholar to challenge the views of extremists,” by Joe Cochrane. “Today, a delegation led by Kyai Haji Achmad Mustofa Bisri, a prominent Indonesian cleric, will fly to Europe for a two-week trip to meet with government officials and civil society figures in Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands…. Bisri, a leading Muslim theologian, will directly and publicly challenge extremist interpretations of the Koran and Islamic teachings—but not just by fringe Muslim extremist and terrorist groups, but also those being espoused by extremist Christian groups and others…. Bisri is under no illusions that he has his work cut out for him. ‘I am part of a majority that has a very specific interpretation of Islam,’ he said. ‘While in Europe, I will represent the majority and share the majority views on Islam.’”
Der Spiegel: “German University Starts Seminars for Imams,” by Anna Reimann. “[O]ne of the most influential liberal Islamic scholars worldwide: Ahmad Mustofa Bisri of Indonesia, who represents the world’s biggest Islamic association.”
Steampunk Sharia: “Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd.” “The Egyptian Quranic scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, who passed away yesterday (5th July 2010), remains my personal model for Muslim intellectual integrity and critical analysis. His most vehement critics could do no better than misrepresent him or demonize him, usually by attributing views and stances to him that were simply untrue…. Abu Zayd saw the Qur’an as a ‘mode of communication’, a place of liminality between God and the individual most redolent at its moment of recital. As I understand it, he took as his inspiration the quotidian recital of the Qur’an by ordinary Muslims. What he rejected was literal interpretation that locked the Word of God in ‘the moment of its historical annunciation.’ It’s a mode of Quranic intepretation that, in my view, rescues it from dogmatists, politicians and dour scholastics, and returns it instead to the kind and loving heart that is the Islam of the Prophet (saw.).”
Strategic Review: “The universal values of Indonesian Islamic civilization,” by Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri. “Centuries of conflict have left deep scars upon the collective psyche of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, in many parts of the world. The spread of Islamist extremism and terror in recent decades has revived, and exacerbated, this ancient trauma. And although this long history of conflict is inextricably tied to military and political rivalries – rather than the substantive (ie, spiritual) teachings of religion – the fact remains that Muslims and non-Muslims alike have been deeply enmeshed in nearly 14 centuries of armed conflict.”
Strategic Review: “Theology matters: The case of jihadi Islam,” by Rüdiger Lohlker. Since 2014, LibForAll Foundation has worked closely with Dr. Rüdiger Lohlker, one of the world’s leading experts regarding the online/offline activities of al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terror groups. A senior professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna and respected counter-terrorism advisor to the European Union and various Western nations, Dr. Lohlker heads the Vienna Observatory for Applied Research on Terrorism and Extremism (VORTEX), whose founding partners include the University of Vienna, Nahdlatul Ulama, GP Ansor, LibForAll/IIQS and Bayt ar-Rahmah. Dr. Lohlker’s landmark article refutes the widely held and frequently asserted view that Western governments, scholars and media outlets should neither critically examine, nor address, the religious dimensions of Islamist terrorism.
Strategic Review: “How Islam learned to adapt in ‘Nusantara’,” by Yahya Cholil Staquf, with C. Holland Taylor. “Islam was forced to ‘surrender’ to the prevailing local customs, and power, of Nusantara’s highly pluralistic civilization.”
Strategic Review: “Indonesia’s ‘big idea’: Resolving the bitter global debate on Islam,” by A. Mustofa Bisri and C. Holland Taylor. “[T]he Nadhlatul Ulama and LibForAll Foundation seek to develop a broad center-left to center-right coalition in North America and Europe, which will unite the ‘humanitarian left’ and ‘national security-oriented right’ in forging the societal consensus required to marginalize and discredit both Islamist extremism and its mirror phenomenon in the West, viz., Islamophobia.”
Swedish National Defence College: “Islam and terrorism” seminar. The largest lecture theatre at the Swedish National Defence College was nearly filled to capacity when LibForAll senior advisor, Kyai Haji Mustofa Bisri, addressed the audience on the topic of “Islam and terrorism.” You can watch a video of the seminar here.
Sydney Morning Herald: “Indonesian summit to promote ‘renovated’ Islam in challenge to global jihadies,” by Jewel Topsfield. “‘Ansor’s global unity forum will highlight the fact that elements within classical Islamic law explicitly enjoin discrimination against certain classes of human beings on the basis of religion,’ says C. Holland Taylor from the LibForAll Foundation, a non-profit organisation fighting for tolerant Islam which he co-founded with former Indonesian president and NU leader Abdurrahman Wahid in 2003. ‘Ansor will issue a call to ulama (Islamic scholars) to examine the problems humanity is facing and see how they are connected to Islamic law and teachings and how these might be reconceptualised.’”
Sydney Morning Herald: “It’s back to the drawing board,” by Mark Trevelyan. “Some youngsters find a sense of identity, belonging and justice in al-Qaeda, experts say, not to mention adventure and a sense of ‘coolness’. The question is how to compete with that allure… At a conference last month in Stockholm, Swedish terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp cited the example of Ahmad Dhani, an Indonesian rock star who challenged militant ideology in a massively popular album called Warriors Of Love (Laskar Cinta, in Indonesian).”
Sydney Morning Herald/Brisbane Times: “Islamic pride fills a stadium, but Pancasila rules the polls.” “‘Since their appearance after the fall of Soeharto, extremist movements have begun to succeed in changing the face of Indonesian Islam to become more aggressive, furious, intolerant and full of hate,’ [President Wahid] said in the preamble to a paper published by the LibForAll Foundation.”
Taipei Times: “Dalai Lama defends Islam at anti-terror religious meeting.” “‘What is going on is a struggle for the soul of Islam,’ Taylor said, adding that Wahid and other top Muslim leaders were on the Dalai Lama’s side in the ‘tug-of-war’ against religious extremism. Taylor referred to Sunni and Shiite leaders forming a public alliance with the Dalai Lama as ‘ideological jujitsu’ to deflect the power of radicals and unite moderates that represent ‘the true heart of Islam.’”
Talk Radio News Service: “Former Indonesian President speaks out Against Muslim Extremism.” Former Indonesian President H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, also known as “Gus Dur,” addressed an auditorium of Muslim students, onlookers and media members at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., urging young Muslims to “reclaim authentic Islam.”
Terong Gosong: “American Agents,” by Yahya Cholil Staquf. “One of America’s closest allies is Saudi Arabia. And yet the Saudis’ own ideological allies, in Indonesia, spout venom and curse the United States every single day. And because we [of the Nahdlatul Ulama] are firmly committed to the path of moderation and tolerance, these same Wahhabi sympathizers denounce us as American agents. Even though America has no idea who we are!!!”
Time Magazine: “In Interview, Top Indonesian Muslim Scholar Says Stop Pretending That Orthodox Islam and Violence Aren’t Linked,” by Marco Stahlhut. “Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam.”
Time Magazine: “Indonesia’s Guitar Warrior” profiles legendary rock star and LibForAll activist Ahmad Dhani, and his work to “save the Muslim world from extremism… one song at a time.”
Time Magazine: “Why Indonesia Matters,” highlights the importance of the country with the world’s largest Muslim population and democracy, and the immediate need for more vigorous mobilization by moderates to counter the rising tide of radical ideology. Features quotes from LibForAll co-founder and board member, H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, LibForAll Advisor, Azyumardi Azra, and Yenny Wahid, Executive Director of the Wahid Institute.
Toronto Sun: “Long, bloody road to Islam reform,” by Salim Mansur. “Wahid devoted his life in opposing Muslim fundamentalism, and since 9/11 spoke and wrote with increasing urgency against political Islam and the fanaticism, bigotry and violence of the Islamists. Both Montazeri and Wahid insisted true belief could not be divorced from freedom. They preached tolerance, as the Qur’an teaches, ‘for you, your religion; for me, my religion,’ and that there can be no compulsion on matters of faith.”
The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: “Did they or didn’t they? The battle for control of Brussels’ Grand Mosque,” by James Dorsey. “There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam,” said Yahya Cholil Staquf, the 51-year old general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).
The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: “Two conferences spotlight Muslim world’s struggle to counter militancy,” by James Dorsey. “…[T]he NU conference warned that Muslims need to bridge the gap between teachings of Islamic orthodoxy and the contemporary Muslim reality. In a reference to Saudi-inspired ultra-conservatism, the draft asserted that ‘social and political instability, civil war and terrorism all arise from the attempt, by ultra-conservative Muslims, to implement certain elements of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) within a context that is no longer compatible with…classical norms.’”
University of Notre Dame: “Nahdlatul Ulama: Good Governance and Religious Tolerance in Indonesia,” by Sumanto Al Qurtuby. Article provides useful information about the Nahdlatul Ulama as “one of Indonesia’s many Muslim groupings and religious associations that are ardently devoted to extend the very fundamental teaching of Islam and the Quran as rahmatan lil ‘alamin—‘a source of love and compassion for all humanity,’ and to ensure that this message is embodied on earth.”
Voice of America: “Indonesian Cleric Plans to Promote Moderate Muslim Philosophy in Europe,” by Brian Padden. “Kyai Haji Achmad Mustofa Bisri, an influential Islamic cleric and member of the supreme council of Nahdlatul Ulama, an Indonesian Muslim organization with 40 million members, has preached tolerance and moderation for over 30 years. Now he has agreed to travel to Europe to help reconcile what he describes as growing animosity between Muslims and Christians there.”
Voice of America: “LibForAll Foundation Promotes Tolerance in Indonesia, Other Muslim Nations.” Mike O’Sullivan reports that former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid and Southeast Asian pop star Ahmad Dhani have joined forces in an organization called LibForAll, which promotes religious tolerance. LibForAll foundation, co-founded by American Holland Taylor, is building a network of moderate Muslims to counteract extremism.
de Volkskrant: “Interview: Gus Mus, Spiritual Leader of Millions of Indonesian Muslims: ‘Radicalism Flourishes Under Democracy,’” by Michel Maas. “The [Illusion of an Islamic State] appeared in Indonesia in 2009, and immediately ignited a firestorm in the Muslim world. The authors received death threats and were painted as ‘enemies of Islam’ by the very people who defend terrorist attacks, and refer to terrorists as ‘martyrs’ and ‘heroes.’ This is noteworthy and significant, because the book is directed against precisely these radicals, and against the irredeemable version of Islam they wish to impose on others. The book’s title is derived from Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid’s introductory text: ‘Their dream of an Islamic state is merely an illusion, for the true islamic state is not to be found in the structure of any government, but rather, in hearts which are open to God and all his creatures.’ In other words: God and politics have nothing to do with each other.”
Wall Street Journal: “Moderate Islamic Preachers Gain Followers in Indonesia,” by James Hookway. “When protests against the low-budget, anti-Islam ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video flared across the Islamic world last month, Indonesia’s Habib Munzir Almusawa preached a different message to his tens of thousands of followers in Jakarta: Just ignore it.”
Wall Street Journal: “The State Department vs. Free Speech,” by Nina Shea and Paul Marshall. “President Obama should put a stop to this nonsense and declare that in free societies all views and religions are subject to contradiction and critique—and the OIC must learn to tolerate that. The alternative is what the late Indonesian Muslim President Abdurrahman Wahid called ‘a narrow suffocating chamber of dogmatism.’”
Wall Street Journal: “We Need to Talk About Islam,” by Nina Shea and Paul Marshall. “One result of this legal confusion is that many Europeans, including many Muslims, will think it wisest to keep silent on all matters Islamic. The late Professor Nasr Abu-Zayd, who, under similar laws, was driven out of Egypt to the Netherlands for his liberal interpretation of Islam, wrote that such charges ‘confine the world’s Muslim population to a bleak, colorless prison of socio-cultural and political conformity.’ There will be terrible consequences for us all if Europe continues to head down this slippery slope.”
Wall Street Journal: “Wahid and the Voice of Moderate Islam,” by Paul Wolfowitz, former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia and assistant secretary of state for East Asia. “Even more important than his role as a politician, Wahid was the spiritual leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, and probably in the world, with 40 million members. He was a product of Indonesia’s traditionally tolerant and humane practice of Islam, and he took that tradition to a higher level and shaped it in ways that will last long after his death.”
Wall Street Journal: “A President for All People.” “Many Muslim Indonesians considered Mr. Wahid a living saint. But Christians, Buddhists and many others mourned his passing last week. Their grief is testament to the power of his ideas, not just for Indonesians, but for every other pluralistic society seeking a peaceful and prosperous future.”
Wall Street Journal: “Indonesia Rejects Extremism,” by Sadanand Dhume. “A pathbreaking new report by LibForAll Foundation, an anti-extremist non-profit co-founded by former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, notes that PKS continues its effort to infiltrate mainstream Islamic organizations, and replace Indonesia’s tolerant, homespun Islam with an arid import from the Middle East.”
Wall Street Journal: “Unfriendly Fanatics,” LibForAll CEO Holland Taylor reviews journalist Sadanand Dhume’s book, My Friend the Fanatic.
Wall Street Journal: “The Obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian Peace,” by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid and Abdul A’la, describes how non-Arab Muslim leaders can help to remove the poison of hatred that has long frustrated attempts to reach a political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Wall Street Journal: In April of 2007, Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens visited Indonesia with LibForAll CEO Holland Taylor, and reported on a variety of LibForAll projects and associates. Wall Street Journal stories that resulted from Mr. Stephens’ visit include:
- “The Last King of Java” a profile of LibForAll co-founder K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid
- “The Exorcist” a profile of key LibForAll activist Dr. Abdul Munir Mulkhan
- “Hips Don’t Lie” President Wahid and LibForAll Advisor K.H. Mustofa Bisri’s defense of personal and artistic freedom
- “The Arab Invasion” the dangers of radicalization
Wall Street Journal: “Public Diplomacy for Dummies” profiles LibForAll CEO C. Holland Taylor and the Foundation’s world-class achievements. “In its brief life, LibForAll has helped turn back an attempted Islamist takeover of the country’s second-largest Muslim social organization (with 30 million members), translated anti-Wahhabist books into Indonesian, sponsored a recent multidenominational conference to denounce Holocaust-denial, brought Mr. Dhani to Colorado to speak to U.S. military brass, and launched a well-researched ‘extremist exposé’ in order, Mr. Taylor says, ‘to get Indonesian society to consciously acknowledge that there is an infiltration occurring of radical ideology, financed by Arab petrodollars, that is intent on destroying Indonesian Islam.’”
Wall Street Journal: “The Evils of Holocaust Denial,” by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid and Rabbi Israel Lau. LibForAll co-founder Wahid and Israel’s former chief rabbi call upon the world’s leaders to “face up frankly to the evils of Holocaust denial” by “living in truth,” and to “act against hatred.”
Wall Street Journal: “Hungry for Asian Islam,” by Joseph Braude, tells how Southeast Asian Muslims can promote a pluralistic and tolerant understanding of Islam in the Middle East, and recommends strong support for such efforts.
Wall Street Journal: “This Muslim Rocker Preaches Tolerance to a Strong Drumbeat,” by Mary Kissel. “Dhani, the founder of one of Indonesia’s most popular bands, is a very different kind of rock superstar. He’s promoting moderate Islam in a lynchpin country in the war on terror, tucking messages of tolerance beside Western beats and Arabic rhythms.” The Wall Street Journal profiles LibForAll activist Ahmad Dhani, who is “creating his own jihad – for moderate Islam.”
Wall Street Journal: “Daughter of Islam,” by Nancy de Wolf Smith. “An eloquent (and elegant) foe of Muslim extremists.” The Wall Street Journal’s weekend interview profiles LibForAll associate Yenni Wahid, daughter of Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid and head of the Wahid Institute in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Wall Street Journal: “Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam,” by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid. “Muslims and non-Muslims must unite to defeat the Wahhabi ideology.” This “must-read” op-ed by LibForAll’s patron, board member and senior advisor appeared in the year-end editions of the U.S. and European Wall Street Journal (Friday, December 30, 2005) labeled “EXTRA! Read all about it!”, and in the first edition of 2006 in the Asian Wall Street Journal. Subsequently described by the Wall Street Journal as “a seminal article for this newspaper” (February 25, 2006), and praised by the Hudson Institute’s Center on Islam, Democracy and the Muslim World as “a far-ranging and detailed account of what [Wahid] views as ‘the global struggle for the soul of Islam’… We recommend this article, which we’ve re-published in this issue of Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, to very serious reading and reflection.”
Wall Street Journal: “The Stakes in Bali,” by LibForAll CEO C. Holland Taylor. Islamist radicals hate and fear the variant of Islam predominant in Indonesia.
Washington Post: “No easy task: Fighting back against radical Islam,” by Jennifer Rubin. “It is not hard to appreciate that anti-extremism efforts are critical to winning the war against Islamic terror. It is a daunting task, but Mustofa Bisri and Taylor remind us that a single book with a powerful message had a huge political impact in the largest Muslim-majority democracy in the world. If it can work in Indonesia, why not in the rest of the world?”
Washington Post: “Muslims speak up, and against radical Islamists,” by Jennifer Rubin. “[T]he book is meant to stir debate, undermine misconceptions and shatter the aura of legitimacy that radical Muslim leaders have erected. In that regard, the book and the Heritage event should be considered a roaring success.”
Washington Post: “Will Muslim Brotherhood control Egyptian religious institutions?” by Jennifer Rubin. “The battle, [LibForAll Foundation Chairman C. Holland] Taylor observed, is only beginning. He told me, ‘People in Muslim countries are fully aware of the strategic nature of the positions we’re talking about, and there will be a battle royale in Egypt in coming years, as the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to gain control of the nation’s religious institutions.’”
Washington Post: “Indonesia steps up pressure on Islamist militants,” by Andrew Higgins. “[In 2004], Indonesia’s best-selling magazine was an Islamic weekly called Sibili, which offered a mix of wild anti-American conspiracy theories and cheerleading for jihad. Today the tide seems to have turned…. Sibili, meanwhile, has toned down its anti-Western rhetoric. ‘We now see bigger potential for sales among moderate Muslims,’ said Lufti Tamimi, the magazine’s director and part-owner. In January, Tamimi ditched Sibili’s hard-line editor and commissioned a series of articles denouncing Salafism, a purist strain of Islam that underpins extremist ideology.”
Washington Post: “As Indonesia debates Islam’s role, U.S. stays out,” by Andrew Higgins. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist reports on U.S. government’s abject failure to support moderate Muslims in their struggle with extremism, while rationalizing this timidity as “sound policy.” “One U.S. group jumps in – While the Asia Foundation and others dived for cover, one American outfit jumped into the theological fray with gusto. In December 2003, C. Holland Taylor, a former telecommunications executive from Winston-Salem, N.C., set up a combative outfit called LibForAll Foundation to ‘promote the culture of liberty and tolerance.’”
Washington Post: “Rock Star Rattles Radical Islam,” by Rebecca Cho. LibForAll activist Ahmad Dhani woos youths with songs of peace and romance. Dhani, 34, says attacking the ideology that motivates terrorists is the key to suppressing radical Islam.
Washington Post: “Extremism Isn’t Islamic Law,” by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid. Muslim leader and former Indonesian President Wahid explains in detail why rigid application of traditional interpretations of Shari‘a law, such as demands for the death penalty for those who change their religion, is in contradiction to Islamic principles. Using Islamic sources, he argues for a “pluralistic and tolerant understanding of Islam” and calls on Muslims worldwide to “bring our limited, human understanding of Islamic law into harmony with its divine spirit—in order to reflect God’s mercy and compassion, and to bring the blessings of peace, justice and tolerance to a suffering world.” An important article from one of the shining lights of the Muslim world.
Washington Post: “In Indonesia, Songs Against Terrorism,” by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid and C. Holland Taylor. The cult of death has incited fanatics to violate Islam’s most sacred teachings in the name of God. Songs by the rock band Dewa urge listeners to join the army of love, not jihad.
Weekly Standard: “The Real Threat Against America,” by Lee Smith. “The American Islamic Leadership Coalition is a gathering of more than 25 organizations and leaders (including C. Holland Taylor’s LibForAll) that is broadly representative of moderate Islam here in the United States. Now the outfit has just released its response to the Obama administration’s national strategy for counterterrorism (NSCT).”
Weekly Standard: “In Defense of Moderation,” by Jennifer Rubin. “C. Holland Taylor doesn’t look like a man radical Muslims should fear…. He possesses no arsenal of weapons, holds no government post, and operates no intelligence service. Yet he runs the world’s most potent and innovative anti-extremist network and may hold a key to defusing the ticking bomb of Islamic terrorism.”
Weekly Standard: “Warrior of Love: An Unlikely Champion of Moderate Islam,” by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. “Dhani’s vision clearly merits his inclusion at the defense policy conference in Colorado Springs. How to foster a more moderate Islam is one of the critical questions of the war on terror to which, at present, there are few compelling answers. At the end of the day, the rock musician from Indonesia may have had more wisdom to impart than most of the other speakers.”