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What a Movie, Cabbie, Saint, Viral Post Tells About Faith in India
Samar Halarnkar

I say eventually because there was considerable alarm when the film came to public notice. It was first called Basavanna, the name of a 12th century south-Indian Hindu reformer. But his followers, Shiva-worshippers called Veershaivas, protested, so the name changed to Brahmin. But then Brahmins protested, so it ended up as Shivam. All this jitteriness quickly faded when the rushes revealed that far from taunting Hinduism, Shivam celebrates its new, militant avatar......

 

US President Lyndon Johnson set up an 11-member national advisory commission on civil disorders to “explain the riots”. The report’s conclusion was scathing: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” This isn’t just a US problem. From Ferguson to Forbesganj in Bihar (where a policeman repeatedly stomped on the corpse of a Muslim man), police and minorities have shared a rather problematic relationship. In India, the relationship between Muslims, the country’s largest minority, and the police represents a structural parallel of the African-American community’s distrust of the police....

 

As that sturdy bellwether of the conventional wisdom, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, wrote in 2005, India, once ‘known as a country of snake charmers, poor  people, and Mother Teresa’, was being ‘recalibrated’ as ‘a country of brainy people and computer wizards’.  This ‘recalibration’ was eagerly lapped up by the Indian press, with mass-circulation magazines running cover stories entitled ‘Global Champs’ and ‘On the Way to Number One’.  It was argued that while Chinese growth depended on sweated labour, the Indian miracle was driven by knowledge and hence of greater worth — as well as more sustainable in the long run....

 

Our Common Religion: Jews, Muslims, Parsis, Christians Have Thrived In India Because Of A Liberal Hinduism
Pavan K Varma

The majority in the Muslim community is statistically at the bottom of society across a wide range of verifiable social and economic indices. In such circumstances, it cannot but be good policy to provide a backward minority, along with other deprived categories, special incentives and safeguards under the law to participate on equal terms in mainstream opportunities of the country. The truth is that Hindus are not, and have never been, insecure about their religion....

 

No Exit From Pakistan
Raza Rumi

Only a democratic, plural Pakistan can be a peaceful polity and a responsible regional nuclear power. This is a lesson that the US must not forget; and more importantly Pakistan’s civilians must not overlook. Despite the odds they will have to reset many policy buttons even if it takes long.

 

Sharif Cannot Afford To Ignore the Military and Imran
Mehr F. Husain

With the war raging on civilians, the Government is more than aware of the fact that turning against the military will mean losing public support which could possibly translate into national anti-Government sentiment.  So if the military is successful in physically cleaning out North Waziristan, then Pakistan might as well let justice take its course too, so that the anti-war lobby and human rights activists are also satisfied…..

 
When in Rome …
Nadeem F. Paracha

When in Rome …
Nadeem F. Paracha

Whenever I travel now, I look forward to meeting people who are not always judging me through religious and ideological biases or figuring out where I stand politically. That, however, can be a problem if you are a Pakistani, because then most non-Pakistanis seem to just want to talk to you about your faith as a Muslim….

 

“India is a democratic country and the Maulana should realize the contentious prayer he offered was only because of the democracy he is living in, where freedom of expression is guaranteed. Propagating anarchy by suggesting taking law into hands for protecting Prophet’s honour is disgraceful.” Dr Lubna Sarwath also said Muslims should condemn ‘2000 killed in Gaza’ and ‘12 killed in France’ in the same breath as Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) would have done the same thing as “his teaching and concern was for the whole humanity.”...

 

It was all very cheap, lacking in class. Netanyahu seemed unconcerned by the interests of the people most affected by his statements, namely France’s Jews. Here they were, looking for reassurances as French citizens, and here was Netanyahu telling them to pack their bags. Yet some of them responded pointedly to his invitation for French Jews to move to Israel. At a Paris synagogue where the prime minister had just finished speaking, many in the audience began singing “La Marseillaise.”…

 

The Conversion Crusade: Competing For People’s Souls
Harsh Mander

The large majority of converts to egalitarian faiths are, not surprisingly, from the lowest Hindu castes, stirred by hopes of greater social dignity and opportunities to study and escape socially humiliating caste livelihoods. It is their ongoing collective tragedy that even Islam and Christianity in India have absorbed ideas of caste; therefore their journey to social equality continues to be hamstrung by old walls of caste…..

 

Religious Science: Riding the Chariots
Nadeem F. Paracha

But this seemingly noble sounding idea wasn’t set into motion by investing money into schools, colleges and universities in Muslim countries in an attempt to upgrade and modernise their curriculum and teaching standards. Instead, the big Petro Dollars went into hiring ‘scientists’ whose job it was to generate evidence that ‘secular science’ was inferior to ‘Islamic science.’.....

 

Should The Right To Free Speech Be Absolute?
Aakar Patel

There are specific laws we have on provoking religious violence, promoting enmity, insulting a religion and wounding religious feelings. But these laws aren’t new. Our laws curbing free speech were drafted in 1837. When he was only 33, Thomas Macaulay began producing the Indian Penal Code. It has continued in more or less the same form for 175 years. It shows what a remarkably unchanging culture we are despite living amid the trappings of modernity. The code, a colonial set of laws, remains in force in free India. This is because an Englishman accurately assessed us, and predicted our behaviour and our reaction to external stimulus…..

Blasphemy and Freedom of Speech
Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo

In such cases, we deal with the same question over and over again: Does freedom of speech include blasphemy? The answer proposed by some is a simple “No”. Freedom of speech does not include the right to engage in blasphemous activities. There must be some limit to freedom….

 

Pakistan Is Right to Introduce Army Courts
Mehr F. Husain

Parliament's unanimous approval for military courts was not a light decision, nor was it an easy pill for democrats to swallow.  The irony of a democratic institution ceding more power to the military is certainly not lost - but Pakistan is at a point where the luxury of reforms and debate no longer exist.  Like all medicine, this bill was a necessary one……

 

Political Forecast 2015
Najam Sethi

If 2014 was a bad year for Pakistan because of terrorism, political instability and civil-military tensions, the outlook for 2015 is cautiously positive on some targets and negative on others…..

 

Military Courts in Pakistan: A Backwards March
Dr Mohammad Taqi

The manufactured political crisis in 2014 sprang directly from the establishment being gung ho about retaining this tutelary role; the tragedy at APS Peshawar provided it with an excuse to try to legitimise its interventions. The way the military leadership has been openly calling the political shots and virtually presiding over meetings — held on military premises — with elected representatives has lifted the fig leaf that was in place from 2008 to 2013. Like the national security disasters from the 1971….

 
Shades of Grey
Ayesha Siddiqa

Shades of Grey
Ayesha Siddiqa

The strategy of liberalising religion from zealots is extremely challenging. Not engaging with religion is not an option because this is the only narrative which sells in society. But building a movement to rationalise religious discourse requires support and greater numbers….

 
World News on Paris Attack
New Age Islam News Bureau

World News on Paris Attack
Marine Le Pen French leader

Muslim Unions, Leaders Condemn ‘Barbaric’ Paris Attack

Ready To Pay Rs. 51 Cr Reward to Charlie Hebdo Attackers, Says Haji Yakoob Qureshi

Top Qatari Editor Urges Muslims ‘Not To Apologize’ For Paris Shooting

Islamic State Fighter Praises Attack on Paris Satirical Magazine

After Shooting, Danish Paper to Print Charlie Hebdo Cartoons On Islam

Abbas Says 'Heinous Crime' In Paris Goes Against Religion, Morality

Global Condemnation, Solidarity after 'Barbaric' Paris Attack

Islamist Turkish Dailies Draw Ire after Charlie Hebdo Attack

Erdoğan Condemns Paris Attack, Urges 'Firm Stance against Intolerance'

Attackers at French Newspaper Seen As Trained Islamist Fighters

Average Mohamed Counters Terror Message with Cartoon Videos

Indian President, PM Condemn Terror Attack

French Islamic Groups Urge Muslims to Observe Moments Of Silence

Paris Shooting Triggers Attacks on Muslim Targets

Paris Gunmen ‘Trained By Pros’: Terror Experts

Is Paris Shooting Linked to France’s Mideast Anti-Terror Drive?

Hollywood Backs French Magazine after Massacre

Charlie Hebdo Will Come Out Next Week, Despite Bloodbath

French far-right leader calls for death penalty in Paris shooting aftermath

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

 

New Year is the mother of all scams. It is a meaningless holiday created by the corporate world not just to render your calendar outdated so you have to buy a new one every 12 months, but also to be able to repeat their smaller scams, such as birthdays, Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Falling into the corporate trap, our media has been running reviews on the top events and newsmakers of 2014. In protest, this scribe has compiled a list of the least influential newsmakers of last year, who failed to make any significant impact……

 

Where Is This ‘Ghar’, Which They Left? And Where Is It That They Are Returning To Now?
Kancha Ilaiah

A few Dalits or tribals might say that they got reconverted from Christianity. But they all keep reading Bible in their homes and keep praying to Jehovah and Jesus in their hearts. Even if the RSS keeps a watch on their homes, how can RSS men stop people from praying to Jesus in their heart? It was Jesus, who told them that your house (Ghar) is your body and you are your soul. An RSS man can take an idol of Ram to him/her and they might pretend to worship that particular idol. But it was again Jesus who told them that pretentious worship is no worship and no idol is God. Their real prayer is within them.....

 

Resurgence of Godse, the Gandhi Killer Worship
Ram Puniyani

With the new dispensation coming to power (Modi Sarkar, May, 2014) many communal assertions, acts and intimidations are up in the air. It seems these acts are being silently appreciated by those in power. This inference is logical as none in the positions of power have either reprimanded or opposed these Godse acolytes. The main reason is that due to the compulsions of power they do not openly support the Godse appreciation clubs. They also do not condemn these voices as they too belong to the Godse ideology of Hindu nationalism. This Hindu nationalism in popular parlance is projected as ‘Nationalism’, keeping the Hindu prefix in the silent mode…..

 

Tunisia’s New President, an Interior Minister in Habib Bourguiba’s Government in 1960s, Defeated Moncef Marzouki, a Human-Rights Campaigner Who Spent Years in Exile

Mr Marzouki’s appeal to voters was that he would defend their newly won liberties. This attracted Islamist sympathisers, especially supporters of Nahda (“Awakening”), the Islamist party that had led a governing coalition in the outgoing constituent assembly but which chose not to put up a candidate...

 

Happy ‘Illicit’ New Year
Özgür Korkmaz

“Lives are being wasted with illicit behaviours and attitudes with a deception of entertainment, either forgetting or ignoring religious or moral values. What a bitter picture is that. How sad it is to consider the Earth only as a planet of entertainment by ignoring the screams and tears of the people facing cruelty in different parts of the world,” the transcript of the fatwa published on Diyanet’s website read, without naming, but fully describing the New Year’s celebrations. The same Diyanet had a liberal view on the issue….

 

A Timely Reminder of the Bloody Anniversary We All Forgot
Robert Fisk

In US history, it is a profound event that we should all remember; here, after all, lie the original bones of the Union, its victory consecrated among some of the units whose soldiers were sent to their deaths in Iraq in 2003, its brutality ghosted into the future narrative of American military records, its equalities reflected in the large number of black soldiers who died in present-day Mesopotamia. But for the Irish, too, the civil war of 1861-1865, is a sombre anniversary. They reckon that 210,000 Irish soldiers fought in British uniform in the First World War, and that 49,300 were killed. Yet almost as many Irishmen fought in the American Civil War – 200,000 in all, 180,000 in the Union army, and 20,000 for the Confederates.....

 

Turkey’s Future: Can Turkey’s Past Glories Be Revived By Its Grandiose Islamist President?

The question is more urgent as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s first popularly elected president, presses for constitutional changes that would endow him with executive power. He then hopes to fulfil his dream of a new and assertive Turkey, where Sunni Islam prevails and the glories of the old empire are revived. Others are less enthusiastic. “Turkey will become a Middle East-style dictatorship,” predicts Levent Gultekin, a prominent pundit….

 
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