Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom

Given the generally subservient position of women in most Muslim societies, unsurprisingly it is barely known that there have been occasions when women have been rulers in their own right, and effective ones at...

Politics Drives an Islamic Agenda in Malaysia

When Malaysia’s Dewan Rakyat, or parliament reconvenes on July 24, its most controversial order of business is a measure that could send the country down the road towards an Islamic dictatorship, a bill that wo...

Jakarta Election seen as ‘Battle for Country’s Soul’

This Wednesday, February 15, Indonesia holds simultaneous local elections involving 101 provinces, districts and municipalities throughout the archipelago. The polls are an important mid-term read on the nation’s mood under President Joko Widodo ahead of 2019 ...

Massive Jakarta Rally Aimed at Indonesia’s President?

On Friday, December 2, Indonesia’s political structure – and even the fabric of the nation as a secular republic – is expected to be further tested by a massive rally aiming to bring tens of thousands of Muslim...

Official Religious Orthodoxy Driving Malaysia to Extremes

Malaysia likes to present itself as a moderate Muslim state and it is fairly credited with cracking down on terrorism or individuals trying to join ISIS in Syria/Iraq or al-Qaeda related groups. Yet even som...
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Wahhabism in Southeast Asia

When I joined Malaysia’s foreign ministry in 1972, a major foreign policy concern in the region was that Southeast Asian nations would soon fall like dominoes to militant communism supported and abetted by the People’s Republic of China. Fortunately, the domin...
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Alarming Rise of Malaysian Religious Extremism

Please note that AS editors inadvertently used a picture of the wrong Aisyah Tajuddin. It has been corrected.  There are worrying signs that the sort of religious self-righteousness that fuels savage jihadi vi...
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Muslim Leaders Must Police Their Own Religion

The recently concluded White House summit to counter violent extremism made much of  root causes like poverty, illiteracy and political alienation but missed an opportunity to address a more immediate and cri...
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The ISIS Threat in Indonesia

Indonesia, with the largest Muslim population in Asia, is one of the most vulnerable states in Southeast Asia to possible infiltration from members of the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS). Although the capacity of violent extremist groups remains ...
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Harsh Islamic Law Loses Momentum in Malaysia

It is beginning to look like the issue of implementing seventh-century Islamic law requiring the amputation of limbs and stoning of adulterers has crested in Malaysia and is receding. The issue attracted wid...