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Yemenis Condemn Terrorism and the Moc...
By Yousef Mawry
15 Jan 2015

January 15, 2015
Sanaa, Yemen

Yemenis say the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris is not representative of the views of the Yemeni people. They also condemn the satirical cartoons depicting Islam’s holy prophet and called on the French government to prevent the cartoons' publication.

This comes directly after Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen (AQAP) claimed responsibly for the shootings in Paris that killed 12 Charlie Hebdo magazine employees. Yemenis fear that the Paris attacks will have a large impact on the global war on terror strategy in Yemen.


Faris Ahmed Shamsan, University student, (man, Arabic):
“The fact that al-Qaeda claimed this attack in Paris is a result of the practices of the foreign press agencies. We want to say that Islam is the religion of peace, mercy, cooperation, and respect, and will never condone such crimes. What happened could be a result of what Yemen is suffering from.”

Waheed al-Muqtari, Citizen, (man, Arabic):
“The way France dealt with the problem was very negative. We all know that two Algerian people have died in the accident and were not mentioned in the French news as if they were not among the victims. Also the French government continued to support the newspaper that insulted Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him. We are not justifying the actions that were taken against the newspaper, but the support that France is providing for the newspaper means that they are standing against Islam and that is something we cannot accept.”

Amin al-Kibsi, Journalist, (man, Arabic):
“The fact that "Ansar al-Sharia" has claimed this terrorist attack and there has been an accusation against the Arabic Peninsula or al-Qaeda of the Arabic Peninsula, or Yemen, is just a process of disinformation to execute American-Zionist plans.”

Hathem al-Hasabai, University student, (man, Arabic):
“The support that was provided by the French government for the newspaper will create more extremism than before. It was a hasty decision to support the newspaper that way. The French government should have worked on calming the international atmosphere and not on supporting the newspaper in that way. It will only increase extremism.”

Dr. Ismael Mansouri, Doctor, (man, Arabic):
“We have an ancient history, we condemn terrorism, but at the same time we refuse [to accept] our Prophet being insulted.”

Abdullah Abdalrahman, Teacher, (man, Arabic):
“Concerning the fact that "Ansar al-Sharia" have claimed this terrorist attack in France, it is a known thing that those terrorist groups do not represent Yemeni people. Al-Qaeda is only a tool in the hands of the west, they use it to justify actions they do later on, that was clear when France did investigations in Yemen, and this is what justifies its actions in Yemen.”

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Peshawar Demonstrators in Solidarity ...
Peshawar, Pakistan
By Malik Ayub Sumbal
13 Jan 2015

A group of Sunni clerics protested today in Peshawar, Pakistan against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and praised the two brothers who killed 11 of its employees and a police officer on 7 January in Paris. They also held a prayer ceremony for the killers and praised the attackers' actions, saying Said and Cherif Kouachi delivered justice against the cartoonists who disrespected the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The clerics made a clear distinction between the recent Taliban attack on the Peshawar Army School, which they wholly condemned, and this latest attack saying that the gunmen in Paris were justified in their killings because of the blasphemy committed by Charlie Hebdo.

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Suicide Attack in Yemen Kills Dozens ...
By Yousef Mawry
30 Dec 2014


Ibb, Yemen
December 29, 2014

Raw and rare footage of the aftermath of the suicide attack in the province of Ibb, Yemen at an event held by Houthis to commemorate the birth of prophet Muhammed.

Footage was taken only moments after the attack and shows people screaming and in a state of shock as they find the mutilated bodies of 33 Houthis who were killed.

Footage also shows the mutilated body of the person who carried out the attack.

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Mortars Fired at Shiite Pilgrims
By mushtaq mohammed
12 Dec 2014

December 12, 2014
Karbala, Iraq

Approximately 20 mortars were dropped on the night of Thursday, December 11, 2014, in inhabited areas in the west neighborhoods of Karbala.
According to eye witnesses, the mortars were fired from the border of al-Hizam al-Akhdar area, using a mobile platform placed in the back of a pickup truck, and landed two kilometers from the holy shrines in the center of Karbala.
The same local source claimed that the shelling caused at least one death and 20 injuries, including children, and damaged some homes.

The attack comes as millions of Shiites from all over the world head to holy shrines in Karbala to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein ibn Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. This is a religious tradition Shiite Muslims have been observing for over 1300 years.


Um Nour (Woman, Arabic):

"His brother is in the hospital, and their younger son is in the hospital. He is the only one who died. Nobody else died."

Interviewer: What happened yesterday?

"A mortar hit, it was dropped in their backyard, go check it out. It was big to the extent that our stuff fell on the ground."

Um Hussein (Woman, Arabic):

"Yesterday at 11:30pm, a missile was dropped on their house. They have five children and they are all young. The youngest is one year and a half old. They were great people, we have been their neighbors for 20 years."

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After the Spring in Yemen (4 of 28)
Sanaa, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Aug 2013

Check point at the entrance of the Shia Houthi celebration of the Prophet Mohammed's anniversary in the outskirts of Sana'a, where every individual has to step on the United States and Israel flags in order to get inside the venue. Tens of thousands gathered at the event. The Houthi slogan written on their headbands reads: "Death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews and victory to Islam".

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True Faith, No Blood - The Howling De...
Prizren, Kosovo
By Michael Biach
15 Apr 2013

Each year members of the Rifai'i brotherhood gather to celebrate a special ritual: At its peak, after the faithful have reached a trancelike state, they start to pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with long century-old metal nails. Blood only flows rarely.

Every year the members of a Kosovo Sufi order repeat their centuries-old ceremony in a sleepy side street in the Ottoman-style town of Prizren. Howling men call the name of God and dance and bounce in ecstasy until – at the peak of the ceremony – they are piercing their cheeks with antique ritual tools.

Sheikh Adrihusein Sheh is the religious leader of the Rifai'i, a Sufi brotherhood founded in the 12th century near Basra in todays Iraq. The community is celebrating Nowruz (Nevruz), the beginning of spring and therefore the New Year. The day also marks the birthday of Imam Ali, the cousin and son in law of the Prophet Mohammed. According to Shia belief Mohammed has chosen Ali as his successor and assigned him with the leadership of the Muslim nation. For Sufis Ali is the starting point of a continuous transmission of the spiritual heritage of Allah's Prophet Muhammad.

In the tekke, the prayer house of the Sufis, believers start to clean ancient religious tools, some of them are long, richly ornamented metal nails with a wooden handle. At the height of the feast the Sheikh will bless these ancient tools and gradually pierce the cheeks of the faithful believers. No blood will flow and scars will be gone in time. At least in theory.  

“For some outsiders, our ceremony is just humbug”, remarks Sheikh Adrihusein sternly, “but the ritual is leading to the purification of the heart of a believer und gives him the opportunity to obtain to know God”. His criticism applies not only to people of other or no faith, but also to Muslims in their own country.

The Sufi’s mythical interpretation of Islam and their own sight of spirituality often turn them into religious outsiders in Islam world. "Sufism is a way of life and an ever-lasting journey of perfection," says the Sheikh. He illustrates his statement with a parable: "First arose the man, but without a soul, similar to a vessel without anything in it. This form must be filled with wisdom and love”. For the Sufi master his way of religion is a true form of worship, based on a traditional method of enlightenment, which has carried the haqiqah – the basic truth – through the time.

The Sheikh is the spiritual leader of the Rifai'i Order. The title is hereditary according to the tradition of the Sufis. He got it transferred from his father after he died. Since his birth, he was prepared and he will pass on the title after his death to his eldest son.

Only those are allowed to lead the order who can prove an unbroken chain of transmission, starting from the Prophet Mohammed himself. Each Order has ancient scrolls on which the genealogy of this pedigree has been written down. "The role of the individual," explains Sheikh " is to fight against the false self and to walk the path of perfection." Aid is given to the seeker from the order leader, the Sheikh himself, who helps him to take the right path and to realize the Divine Presence of Allah.

Sufis are also called Dervish, which is derived from the word dari – door – and means that someone goes from door to door. Dervishes were known to be associated with criticism of an overly materialistic society for centuries. The first followers of Sufism were characterized by a strong ascetic way of life and by material poverty. Often they were therefore also called faqir - the poor in front of Allah.

"Every divine attribute is hidden in the human heart", expresses the Sheikh almost self-evident. The dhikr, the communitie’s prayer ritual is a tool to make the Dervishes aware of the constant presence of God. A compulsory procedure for the dhikr, which means ‘remembrance of God’ does not exist in Sufism. Each Order has its own method. The trance dance of the Mevlevi order is probably best known. Its members are often referred to as rotating or dancing dervishes. The prayer ritual of the howling dervishes of Rifai'i Order is loud and ecstatic. Although they may not be more different, both forms of dhikr serve the same purpose.

In the meantime, the tekke has filled with more than seventy believers. The dervishes are wrapped in black robes with sleeveless white vests and a Fez-like hat. Crowded together, they sit side by side on the floor, then the ceremony begins. Together, the dervishes constantly repeat the name of God. Therefore they are not limited purely using the word Allah, but make use of the 99 names of God mentioned in the Quran.

Doing so, the Dervishes start very slowly while sitting but will raise their voice and get into an upright position after a while.

After about an hour of swaying the dervishes start to move their upper bodies up and down, again and again. They are accompanied by drum sounds. Still they are repeating the name of God. Inevitably, the believers fall into a trance-like, ecstatic state.

Close to the ”awareness of God in their own hearts”, it's time for the ultimate proof of faith.

"Only those who manage to separate the spirit from the body, are able to recognize the Divine", reveals the Sheikh. The youngest Dervishes, about eight to twelve years old, stand in a row in front of the Sheikh. In his hand he holds a long needle.

For some of the boys it is their first Nowruz ritual. They have no fear and act excited and proud. The Sheikh speaks a blessing, leads the iron needle slowly through his mouth and moistens it with his tongue. With his left hand he grabs the boy's right cheek and pierces it with a quick tug.

The boy smiles and makes room for the next one.

The repetitive confession of God as well as the sway of the upper body is still ongoing in the meantime. Now the adult Dervishes have their turn and the Sheikh now graps for the large iron nails, many of which are centuries old.

The ritual is repeated; the dhikr is at its peak. About a dozen of the Dervishes have already had been pierced their cheeks. With the left hand they hold the ornate wooden knob and continue to sway and repeat the name of God.

Two older, much more experienced-looking dervishes enter the center of the Tekke.

They will carry out the spiritual ritual themselves. Dancing they walk through the room from one corner to another, under constant rhythmic accompaniment by drumming and singing of the other dervishes. Again and again they stop and leave the pointed iron rods revolve on their necks below the larynx. The metal chain on the knob is swirling through the air.

When the music and the prayers seem to be more and more maniac, the two dervishes take the metal nails and stab them laterally in the abdomen above the hips.

The ecstatic noises decrease apparently, but no one is startled. The dervishes are experienced and know how far they can go. The sheikh steps forward. In his hand he holds a heavy iron bar, a hammer. Several times he swings it onto the bars in the bellies of the dervishes.

One of the two lets himself fall to his knees. The expression in his eyes gives an idea of ​​the ecstasy in which it is located. Calm and in control, he gets rid of the metal nail, which is in his stomach.

With the right hand one of the dervishes holds the knob of the metal nail, while he is putting the other hand on his face. Then he pierces both of his cheeks with a fast move.

It seems that the Dervish, due to his trance, does not even feel the pain. Exhausted, he breathes out several times, then he is quickly on and joins the others, invokes the name of God and fluctuates in time with his upper body.

"It is by no means a kind of self-flagellation", assures one of the dervishes. "The one who can separate the spirit from his body, is able to notice God and follow the path to perfection" he implores.

The believers stand again in front of the Sheikh.

Slowly he removes the nails from the cheeks of the dervishes. With thumb and forefinger he is pressing on the sore openings. This shall help that after removing of the instruments no blood will flow and the injuries will heal quickly.

"Through this ritual we show that our faith is sincere and Allah recognizes and protects us - when we recognize him," says the Sheikh again.

In fact, the wounds do not seem to bleed and scars are searched in vain in the faces of elders. Also, none of the faithful seemed to be plagued by pain.

Then one of the dervishes pushes through the crowd, pulls out a tissue and gives it to a boy.

Some blood has flown in the end.

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Al Manama, Bahrain
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Nov 2012

Ashura is commemorated by Shi'a Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH (October 10, 680 CE).
On the 20th of November, hundreds of Bahrainis mourned the loss of Hussein.
Diverse religious groups gathered to share this memory with shiite in the Bahraini capital, the city of Al-Manama.

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Police Outside The U.S. Embassy
Amman, Jordan
By Melissa Tabeek
14 Sep 2012

Police outnumbered the protesters, creating a barrier that blocked the shouting mass of people from the street. On the other side in front of the compound, about 40 additional men in riot gear formed a line behind concrete barricades. Behind the riot police were several trucks manned with artillery and more security, at the ready if needed.

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A Rally Cry From Above
Amman, Jordan
By Melissa Tabeek
14 Sep 2012

A protestor mobilizes the crowd from atop another’s shoulders.

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Jordan Amman
By Beirut Editor's Picks
14 Sep 2012

A protest of about 150 demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan near dusk on September 14, condemning the now infamous YouTube video that insulted the Prophet Mohammad, and chanting anti-American slogans.

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Bahraini religious figures congregate...
By Media Made by Bahraini People
13 Sep 2012

Bahrain, September 13, 2012

Bahraini religious figures congregate to protest the American film, “The Innocence of Muslims,” mirroring the string of protests that have occurred in other countries around the region. This demonstration was kept non-violent compared to the others in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.