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Who Are Sufi Muslims and Why Do Some Extremists Hate Them?

“It is nothing more than the spiritual dimension” of Islam, the cleric, who goes by Imam Feisal, said in a phone interview. “It is Islam, but we focus on meditation, on chanting sessions, which enable the Muslim to have his or her heart open. The myths people have about Sufis are analogous to the myths people have about Muslims.”For a time, beginning in the 12th century, Sufism was a mainstay of the social order for Islamic civilization, and since that time it has spread throughout the Muslim world, and to China, West Africa and the United States. As Sufism spread, it adapted elements of local culture and belief, making it a popular practice.Alexander D. Knysh, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan and expert in modern Sufism, describes it as a “very wide, amorphous movement” practiced within both the Sunni and Shiite traditions.Sufism has shaped literature and art for centuries, and is associated with many of the most resonant pieces of Islam’s “golden age,” lasting from roughly the eighth through 13th centuries, including the poetry of Rumi.In modern times, the predominant view of Sufi Islam is one of “love, peace, tolerance,” Mr. […]

New Order Indefinitely Bars Almost All Travel From Seven Countries

For Mr. Trump, whose efforts on health care, infrastructure improvements and tax reform are gaining little steam, the new order is a third attempt to make good on his campaign promise to respond to terrorist threats by tightening entry at the nation’s borders. In December 2015, he called for a complete ban on travel to the United States by Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” though he later denied that he had sought a religious test on travel.Officials described the new order as a much more targeted effort than the president’s earlier one. Each of the countries will be under its own set of travel restrictions, though in most cases citizens of the countries will be unable to emigrate to the United States permanently and most will be barred from coming to work, study or vacation in America.Iran, for example, will still be able to send its citizens on student exchanges, though such visitors will be subject to enhanced screening. Certain government officials of Venezuela and their families will be barred from visiting the United States […]

Iraqi Forces Start Offensive to Retake Tal Afar From ISIS

An estimated 1,000 Islamic State fighters are believed to be dug in to defend Tal Afar, which has been surrounded by security forces and militias for months. American military officials visiting Baghdad this week warned that the fight, which may last weeks or months, could be particularly brutal and bloody, because the militants have no way to flee the city.Newsletter Sign UpContinue reading the main storyThank you for subscribing.An error has occurred. Please try again later.You are already subscribed to this email.View all New York Times newsletters.The start of the push on Tal Afar, which is being supported by American air power, began with the familiar stagecraft of a prime minister determined to capitalize on the military operations to present himself as an effective leader.On Saturday, Iraqi airplanes dropped leaflets over Tal Afar, telling residents that security forces were moving toward them, and that their city would soon be rid of the “evil” of the Islamic State. “Prepare yourselves,” the leaflet said. “The battle is near, and victory is coming.”When the battle began last fall for Mosul, the largest city in either Iraq or Syria that had fallen to the Islamic State, the fate of Tal Afar took on outsize importance because of the concerns of regional powers.As an ethnic Turkmen city whose Shiite residents had been killed or expelled, Tal Afar became caught up in the regional rivalry between Turkey, which has historical and ethnic connections to the city, and Iran, the region’s pre-eminent Shiite Muslim power.As the operation for Mosul began, Iraqi Shiite militias loyal to Iran moved toward Tal Afar, raising concerns of a sectarian blood bath and the possibility of intervention by Turkey. The militias captured a nearby airfield, but did not assault the city itself. The militias are now taking part in the offensive on Tal Afar alongside Iraqi security forces, but they are not in the lead, which has lowered tensions with Turkey.Follow Tim Arango on Twitter @tarangoNYT.Falih Hassan contributed reporting.Continue reading the main story […]

‘Evil Attack’ in Virginia Is Domestic Terrorism, Sessions Says

Mr. Sessions, who is coming off weeks of pointed criticism from Mr. Trump over his performance as attorney general, was pressed to explain why the president had not forcefully condemned white nationalism.Mr. Sessions said the president had done so, but he was referring to an unattributed White House statement on Sunday that condemned “white supremacists,” not to comments Mr. Trump made publicly.“He said that yesterday, his spokesman did,” Mr. Sessions said on ABC.“It came from the White House,” Mr. Sessions said on NBC’s “Today” show. “It was authorized.”Newsletter Sign UpContinue reading the main storyThank you for subscribing.An error has occurred. Please try again later.You are already subscribed to this email.View all New York Times newsletters.“I think we’re making too much of this,” Mr. Sessions added on “CBS This Morning.”As United States attorney in Alabama, Mr. […]

The Right and Left React to Medicaid Cuts, the Travel Ban and More

Mr. Benson points out that under the Republican plan, states would once again be able to concentrate government dollars to the poorest people and make Medicaid “fiscally sustainable.” He goes on to say that, under the Affordable Care Act, life expectancy has decreased. If Republicans trafficked in the “same brand of ugly, motive-impugning hysteria” as the Democrats, he argues, they would try to establish a causal relationship between the Affordable Care Act and rising mortality rates. Read more »Continue reading the main story_____• Robert Holland in American Spectator:“With federal vouchers for homeschooling, Washington, D.C. soon would be registering and tracking homeschooled children, as well as deciding how much could (or should) be spent on their instruction.”Mr […]

Administration Moves to Carry Out Partial Travel Ban

Critics immediately denounced the administration, accusing the White House of violating the Supreme Court’s directive to exempt anyone with a “bona fide” family connection to the United States. Civil rights groups vowed to challenge what they said was a renewed attempt by Mr. Trump to keep Muslims out of the country.Continue reading the main story“It remains clear that President Trump’s purpose is to disparage and condemn Muslims,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, adding that the government’s new ban on entry “does not comport with the Supreme Court’s order, is arbitrary and is not tied to any legitimate government purpose.”One week after taking office, Mr. Trump shut down travel from seven mostly Muslim countries, including Iraq, and blocked entry by all refugees, saying that a “pause” was necessary to evaluate the vetting of visitors from places the government deemed dangerous.Critics assailed that first order as a veiled attempt to make good on Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to impose a “Muslim ban.” After courts blocked it, the president issued a modified order directed at six countries, not including Iraq. That order was blocked as well, with federal appeals courts ruling that it discriminated based on religion, in violation of the First Amendment, and exceeded the president’s statutory authority.The decision Thursday by the administration to revive and aggressively enforce another version of the president’s travel ban is certain to keep the intense debate about America’s borders going into the Supreme Court’s fall term, when the justices are scheduled to decide the legal fate of Mr. Trump’s efforts to restrict entry by particular groups.Interactive GraphicThe Supreme Court Partially Allowed Trump’s Travel Ban. Who Is Still Barred?The court allowed the ban to go ahead but exempted people with “bona fide relationships” in the United States.OPEN Interactive GraphicOfficials said they were determined to “meet the intent of the presidential directive” within the boundaries set by the Supreme Court, which issued an interim opinion when it agreed to consider the issue in its next term. Administration officials said their definition of a “family connection” was based on existing immigration law and directions from the court.Hours before the new guidelines went into effect Thursday evening, officials predicted little of the chaos that engulfed airports in January, when the president issued his original travel ban. This time, officials said, people already booked to travel to the United States would be allowed to enter […]

Loose Definition of Terrorism Upends a Syrian Asylum Seeker’s Life

But in early June, Mr. Ziadeh was informed that he would be denied political asylum in the United States. In a 12-page letter laying out the government’s “intent to deny” his asylum claim, Citizenship and Immigration Services explained that he had provided “material support” to Syrian groups that the government considered undesignated terrorist organizations.Continue reading the main storyMr. Ziadeh said he was shocked. He and his wife have lived in the United States for 10 years on a series of temporary permits, the latest of which expires next spring. Their children were born here.“Right now, I can’t even plan for the future. What will happen?” he said. “I have three American kids. I love, actually, the U.S. […]