Ed Husain

The Arab Street

Husain examines politics, society, and radicalism in the greater Middle East.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Al-Qaeda"

France: Jews and Muslims Must Show Unity Against Jihadis

by Ed Husain
A mourner stands over the fresh graves of victims of Monday's shooting in Toulouse, France, after their joint funeral in Jerusalem (Nir Elias/Courtesy Reuters). A mourner stands over the fresh graves of victims of Monday's shooting in Toulouse, France, after their joint funeral in Jerusalem (Nir Elias/Courtesy Reuters).

“God forbid that the recent killer of Jewish children and a rabbi in France be a Muslim or of Arab descent,” I tweeted a day before the French authorities named Mohamed Merah as the prime suspect in last week’s terrorist atrocity. People on Twitter responded to me saying: “He also killed Muslims.” And yes, he did—but it does not take away from the severity of the killer’s anti-Semitism that led to him target Ozar Hatorah school and kill Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and the blessed children he was trying to protect. Read more »

The Rise and Rise of E-Jihad

by Ed Husain

Cyber jihad is not just the way of the future—it is being undertaken as you read these lines. The appeal of e-jihad is so strong among large numbers of e-radicals that Muslim clerics in several countries are passing judgment on the utility of “destroying the enemy’s electronic devices or surreptitiously taking valuable information from these devices.” Read more »

Why Egypt’s Salafis Are Not the Amish

by Ed Husain

Parliamentary candidate Abo El-Maty of the Salafi party Al-Nour greets supporters outside a polling station during the parliamentary elections in Cairo (Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Here on the streets of Cairo, I sense a new pride today among Egyptian Salafis. Reports of their electoral success in the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections have injected them with confidence in their religious agenda and struck fear in the hearts of millions of Egyptians. Those who denied that Egypt had a problem with Muslim radicalism were sharply awoken from their sleep.

Now, while many in Egypt are terrified at the prospect of Salafis in parliament, left-leaning policymakers in Washington, DC, will be arguing that Salafis are harmless, pious, and orthodox Muslims. Wrong. Read more »

Grandpa Zawahiri’s Al-Qaeda Story Show: Part 1

by Ed Husain

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (Hamid Mir/Courtesy Reuters).

Al-Qaeda has just released the first in a series of forthcoming videos in which its new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, sits on a sofa—without his favorite prop, a Kalashnikov—and waxes lyrical about bygone days with Osama bin Laden.

Devoid of his usual yelling, threatening, and jabbing—although he can’t resist wagging his finger—Zawahiri tries to bolster the mythology and symbolism of Osama bin Laden for the orphaned jihadi movement. By using his own personal experiences with Bin Laden, Zawahiri is attempting to consolidate his position as undisputed leader to prevent possible rebellion within al-Qaeda’s ranks. Often accused of being ruthless and cold-blooded, Zawahiri relates stories of Bin Laden’s joys, tears, frustrations, and loyalty to show that Zawahiri, too, has a side that empathizes with and grasps the sheer difficulties of the jihadi lifestyle. Read more »

Radical Turnaround in Saudi Arabia

by Ed Husain

Shaikh Salman al-Awdah (Marwan Almuraisy/Flickr)

He was Osama bin Laden’s mentor. The Saudi government imprisoned him for five years in the 1990s to stop him from reaching the millions of young Saudis that were inspired by his fiery messages of anti-American hatred and demands for change within Saudi Arabia. And yet Shaikh Salman al-Awdah continued to command the lives of a whole generation of Saudis. Osama bin Laden specifically mentioned Shaikh Salman’s imprisonment to justify his declaration of war against the West and Saudi Arabia. So what happened to the angry, radical, and confrontational Shaikh Salman?

Today, he is the Saudi with the highest number of followers on Twitter. On Facebook, he has over five hundred thousand followers. I follow Shaikh Salman on Arabic Twitter, and gone is the man who cites chapter and verse to incite young minds towards agitation. Now in his fifties, he is mild and mature. He tweets contemplative questions about love, compassion, spirituality, forgiveness, and humanity. He remains a vastly popular preacher on more than ten regional Arabic television channels, as well as through his website and writing.

Recently, he was the talk of the town across Saudi Arabia because he was suddenly banned from traveling. What did the Saudi government know that others did not? In subsequent television interviews, he maintained his calmness and did not provoke action against the regime. Unlike other Saudi clerics, Shaikh Salman is not employed by the government. His independence only adds to his popularity and unrivaled credibility inside the Kingdom, and within the broader Middle East. Read more »

Welcome to “The Arab Street”

by Ed Husain

Thousands of Egyptian Muslims perform prayers at the Laylat al-Qadr service during the holy month of Ramadan in the street outside an Alexandria, Egypt mosque on August 27, 2011 (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Where next for the Arab world?

This was asked when Arab revolutions broke out in the middle of the last century, when army officers squandered popular goodwill and gave their people decades of dictatorship. As now, there was hope in the air. Then, the ideological underwriting for tyrants was pan-Arabism and Arab socialism. Today, the ideology of radical Islamism and the lack of mobilized, political alternatives threaten the street uprisings of young Arabs.

Googlers, Facebookers, and the Twitterati may have helped overthrow military dictators, but these elite, urban youth do not possess political alternatives, constituencies, movements, and trust in parts of their countries where social media has no presence. This mismatch helps explain, for example, why they lost the referendum on changes to the Egyptian constitution in March of this year. The critical mass in most Arab countries is still mobilized by the Muslim Brotherhood and its various offshoots through mosques, organizational networks, trade unions, schools, and even businesses.
Read more »