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Stephen Schwartz
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Stephen Suleyman Schwartz is the Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, D.C. and author of the 2008 book The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony (Doubleday). In 2002, he published the bestselling The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role In Terrorism (Doubleday). He is also author of Sarajevo Rose: A Balkan Jewish Notebook, published in the U.S. by Routledge Macmillan and in Britain by The Bosnian Institute and Saqi Books.

The Two Faces of Islam has been translated into Bosnian (Dva Lica Islama), Albanian (Dy Ftyrat e Islamit) and Indonesian (Dua Wajah Islam). As of 2010, Persian, Hindi and Urdu editions are forthcoming. The Other Islam has been published in Albanian (Islami Tjetër) and Bosnian (Jedan Drugaciji Islam). Sarajevo Rose has been published in Bosnian (Sarajevska Ruža).

Schwartz was born in 1948 and has pursued a long literary and journalistic career. He was a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle for 10 years and was secretary of the Northern California Newspaper Guild, AFL-CIO.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, his extensive and authoritative writings on the phenomenon of Wahhabism established him as one of the leading global experts on Islam, its internal divisions and its relations with other faiths.

His articles have been printed in the world's major newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Toronto Globe and Mail and Reforma in Mexico City, as well as leading periodicals in the Balkans.

He began a serious examination of Islam in 1990, when he first visited Yugoslavia. Researching the history of Jews in the Balkans –- for articles published in the Jewish Forward and other periodicals –- he developed close relations with Balkan Islamic intellectual, religious and political leaders.

During the 1990s he continued his intensive study of Balkan comparative religion while working as an editor for the Albanian Catholic Institute in San Francisco (this aside from his work for the San Francisco Chronicle). He also completed short missions in Bosnia-Hercegovina for the International Federation of Journalists and the Council of Europe, as well as a USAID-funded program.

In 1999, with the Kosovo intervention, Mr. Schwartz retired from the San Francisco Chronicle. Moving to Sarajevo, he worked for leading NGOs, including the Soros Fund for an Open Society and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, as well as USAID. He has returned to the Balkans at least once yearly since 2003.

He has been a student of Sufism since the late 1960s and an adherent of the Hanafi school of Islam since 1997.

Entries by Stephen Schwartz

Paris Terror Harms France, Islam, and the World

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 2:43 PM

On January 8, Stéphane Charbonnier, editor of the Paris satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, along with seven of his journalist colleagues and two policemen, a maintenance worker, and a visitor, were assassinated in an Islamist terror raid.

Three more people were injured. The brutal atrocity came only days after...

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Germany, Anti-Islam, and Vladimir Putin

(36) Comments | Posted December 19, 2014 | 9:02 PM

On Monday, December 15, as reported by the German news service Deutsche Welle (DW), some 15,000 people massed in Dresden, Germany, under the banner of a new and seemingly informal movement calling itself Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West -- PEGIDA by its German-language acronym. The...

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Putin's 'Yugoslavian Scenario' Threatens Balkan Interfaith Relations

(6) Comments | Posted December 9, 2014 | 2:57 PM

Vladimir Putin has, it seems, followed many parallels between his policy in Ukraine -- with, by implication, his regime's previous interference in Georgia -- and the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Like the terror wrought then by Christian Orthodox-majority Serbians and Montenegrins against Catholic-majority Croatia, Muslim-plurality Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Muslim-majority Kosovo,...

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Should U.S. Facilitate Tourism in Turkmenistan?

(0) Comments | Posted November 18, 2014 | 12:55 PM

The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) is a branch of the U.S. State Department. Since 2001, AFCP has granted millions of dollars to countries around the world, for conservation of historic religious and other structures and institutions. The Fund was established by Congress under Public Law 106-553...

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Ashura In the Shadow of New Terrorism

(0) Comments | Posted November 3, 2014 | 3:17 PM

The Muslim religious observance of Ashura - the 10th day of Muharram, the month that commences the Islamic lunar year - began on the evening of Sunday, November 2, 2014, and extends through Monday, November 3, by Western reckoning.

Ashura marks the death at the battle of Karbala, in Iraq...

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Malala Yousafzai and the Future of Islam

(2) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 9:57 AM

The award of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year old Pakistani female and youngest-ever Nobel laureate, in tandem with India's Kailash Satyarthi, 60, a prominent activist for children's rights in his own country, has various contexts.

One such involves Pakistani-Indian conciliation in the...

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Jews and Muslims Share a Holy Week

(1) Comments | Posted October 8, 2014 | 12:16 PM

This year -- 2014 in the Common Era (C.E.) calendar, 5774-75 in the Hebrew calendar, and the Islamic lunar year 1435-36 -- saw a coincidence between the Jewish and Muslim holy days. The 10 Jewish "Days of Awe" were observed from Rosh Hashanah on September 24 to the fast of...

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Pope Francis in Albania: Four Lessons

(2) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 6:21 PM

On September 21, Pope Francis made a one-day visit to Albania, a short air trip across the Adriatic Sea from Rome but a land neglected typically by global leaders. The excursion was the first by the Pope to a European country since his elevation, according to the Catholic...

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Reporters Without Borders Demands Protection for Kosovar Investigative Journalist

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 8:29 AM

The atrocious murders of American journalists James Foyle and Steven Sotloff exemplify the strategy of global terror pursued by the so-called "Islamic State" (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS or ISIL).

On Wednesday, September 3, the worldwide monitor of media freedom, Reporters Without Borders,...

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ISIS and the Kosovar Albanians

(25) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 10:44 AM

U.S. air strikes continue against the terrorists of the so-called "Islamic State" -- formerly the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" or ISIS -- in the borderlands of Iraqi Kurdistan. American military action has been impelled by the genocidal ISIS threat to Christians and various small Kurdish and other religious...

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Russian Oligarch's Balkan-Style Gambit in Ukraine

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 9:36 AM

On July 25, the London Financial Times published a lengthy and fascinating report dealing with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Courtney Weaver, a Moscow staffer for the newspaper, described how Konstantin V. Malofeev, a Russian Orthodox Christian billionaire little known in the West, traveled to Sevastopol, on the southwest coast of the...

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The Coming of Eid al-Fitr

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 3:17 PM

The final day of the Islamic fasting and prayer month of Ramadan will arrive on midnight, Sunday, July 27, followed by Eid al-Fitr, the holiday of feasting, on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal, given the proper sightings of the moon and differing geographical locations. Eid al-Fitr...

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Ramadan Amid the New Middle East Crisis

(0) Comments | Posted June 27, 2014 | 10:42 PM

In 2014 the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, for the Islamic year 1435, is to begin on the night of Saturday, June 28, and end on July 27, once the dates are confirmed by moon sightings. Ramadan will be followed by a celebration of the feast of fast-breaking (Eid al-Fitr)....

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Kosovo Widens Its International Interfaith Scope

(0) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 6:58 PM

The Muslim-majority Kosovo Republic has taken a leading initiative in promoting international interfaith dialogue, in a Balkan setting. The Kosovo government has committed notably to public reconciliation efforts bringing official Albanian Muslim clerical authorities together with representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In the long period of civil confrontation...

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Teaching the Judeo-Spanish Heritage to Chicago Seventh Graders

(1) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 6:03 PM

During the Jewish and Christian holidays of Passover and Easter, it is well to think back on histories of inter-communal goodwill between these two Peoples of the Book and Muslims. One outstanding example involves the rich heritage of Sephardic Jewish life in the former Turkish empire, including the Balkans.


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Bosnian Sephardic Jews - Few But Influential

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 10:20 AM


Sephardic Jews were brought to the Balkans after their expulsion by the Spanish and Portuguese Christian authorities, beginning in 1492. They were rescued by the Turkish Sultan Bayazet II, who lived from 1447 to 1512 and ruled the Ottoman empire from 1481 until his death.

At the Sultan's command,...

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Kosovo Revives Its Jewish Heritage

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 5:26 PM

Recently, many Muslim countries and Muslim minority communities have fallen back into conflict. The U.S., Britain and France have experienced new terrorist attacks, Turkey has seen spreading urban protests against its Islamist government, and horrific bloodshed continues in Syria.

In the Balkan republic of Kosovo, with a...

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Iran Continues Crackdown on Sufis

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2013 | 7:00 PM

Iran continues to arrest Sufi mystics. The victims of state suppression represent the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi order, the main body of traditional metaphysical Muslims in the country. On April 20, Abdolghafour Ghalandari Nejad, a webmaster for the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi site Majzooban Noor (The Alluring Light), was detained in the south Iranian port city...

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How Albania's Religious Mix Offers an Example for the Rest of the World

(0) Comments | Posted November 28, 2012 | 3:47 PM

A century ago, on Nov. 28, 1912, the people of Albania proclaimed their freedom from the Ottoman Empire. The declaration of Albanian independence, and adoption of the ancient Albanian banner, with a black double-headed eagle on a red field, were announced in the eastern Adriatic port of Vlora.

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John Christopher Stevens, 1960-2012: A Northern California Hero

(4) Comments | Posted October 17, 2012 | 1:29 PM

In the early evening of Tuesday, Oct. 16, while most of the rest of the country focused on the second presidential debate, the family of the murdered U.S. ambassador to Libya, John Christopher Stevens, sponsored a "celebration of life" in his name. The memorial took place in the rotunda of...

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