Islam and Politics
Is Catholicism/the Vatican on trial every time a priest sexually assaults a minor? Or is the Pope ultimately responsible for the deviant acts of lone-wolf priests? Is Judaism on trial for every illegal settlement expansion and violence against Palestinians? Is Buddhism, in Sri Lanka or Thailand, on trial every time a monk assaults a person of a different faith or destroys property? Put differently, are the teachings and principles of Buddha revisited based upon violent acts of lone-wolf monks? It would appear that since the World Trade Center bombing (in the 1990s) and 9/11, every time a lone-wolf act done by a “Muslim” – from shoe (would-be) bomber to underwear (would-be) bomber to Time Square (would-be) bomber – there is debate, led generally by the Western media, about the violence within Islam or questioning the “peacefulness of Islam”…
Had these Muslims instead argued that the West’s own sins – it colonial history, its unlawful “war on terror,” its support for Israeli militarism – form one root cause of Islamist militancy, then they would be saying something right and important. But analyzing the unintended consequences of Western sins is one thing, imagining that the West secretly manufactures all Muslim sins is another…..
For centuries, ideologues and politicians in the West have positioned themselves regarding Islam in a defensive way. Christian Europe always met with Islam through war. First of all it was the Umayyad reign in Iberia, also with a Jewish presence that was brutally crushed by the Catholic inquisition in the 15th century. Then, starting in the 14th century through the Balkans, the Turkish Empire under the Ottoman dynasty finished off the remnants of the Roman Empire, took Constantinople, and made Istanbul its capital, controlling major trade routes of the Old World….
Today, the world watches in horror as the terrifying threat of the Islamic State continues to grow, and although the West is repeating its calls for moderate Arab leaders to take charge, we are still not dealing with the main underlying issues. These are, of course, different for everyone, but they share a single common denominator: the need for people in the Middle East to have access to the same kind of equal opportunities, in a merit-based, reward-driven environment that much of the world enjoys. Change is inevitable: if we do not embrace evolution now, all the indications are that we will be faced with a real revolution in the future….
How many other Abdul Aziz’s does Pakistan have? Clerics who propagate Taliban and Daesh (Islamic State) views to their followers and who, like Aziz, are unmoved by the Peshawar massacre? No one knows even the number of mosques in Pakistan, where they are located, and, most importantly, what their Khutbas (sermons) contain….
Thousands of Burmese Muslims from Arakan – often called Rohingyas – were offered a safe haven in Saudi Arabia by King Faisal but with the change in rulers in Saudi Arabia the rules underwent a change too. A permanent abode of peace that was offered to these uprooted Arakanese is now nothing less than a chamber of horrors. There are some three thousand families of Burmese Muslims in Makkah and Jeddah prisons awaiting their deportation. Women and children are held in separate prisons nearby. The only contact the men have with their wives and children is through mobile phones and clandestine courier service provided by hawkers of food & water - aided & abetted by the prison officers for a small fee!....
The implantation of the Huthi movement in the Yemeni state machinery will facilitate Iran's interference in the internal affairs of Yemen. This will strengthen Iran's position in the Middle East. It will also have big impact on Saudi Arabia. Iran's growing weight in Yemen's internal affairs is a nightmare for Saudi Arabia because, in addition to the Iranian influence in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia, inhabited by Shia Arabs, another Shia entity supported by Iran will now disturb the kingdom from the southwest…..
....the reality is that now in France there are people who exhibit not one French identity, but at least two or three competing ones. Not only has this fed into the rise of the right wing led by Le Pen, but it has placed stress on secular culture. The French government banned headscarves in public schools in 2004, and in 2014 it became mandatory to reveal one’s face at a place of work. Charlie Hebdo’s work falls within this context of stresses on national identity and secular culture. Of course, it targeted one religion, Islam, more than others in recent years. However, we need to understand Charlie Hebdo not as an anti-Islamic publication, but as an anti-religion, anti-institutional, anti-extremist publication......
The constant depiction of Muslims as the “problematic other” plays a major role in dehumanising the entire community. The act of systematic dehumanisation of a community has historically been used to justify mass violence as retaliation, and shifts the burden of responsibility for the violence on the marginalised communities. The radicalisation discourse not only defines itself in opposition to the “other,” but often engages in violence against this “other.” In India, the discourse has overwhelmingly contributed to the normalisation of prejudice, dehumanisation of an entire community, legitimated violence and enabled a steady erosion of rights….
Today Islam has been left to be cannibalised by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries supporting and funding the spread of Wahhabism that had earlier identified Kemal Ataturk, King Faruq and Presidents Nasser and Sadat of Egypt, Hafiz al-Asad in Syria as enemies from within. “If these fanatics and fundamentalists had twisted the word of God for their own political ends”, a prominent British-Pakistani writer Hanif Kureishi once asked, “why shouldn't the Qur’an be reclaimed and reinterpreted by the better intentioned?”…
Riyadh's regional strategy has traditionally been to support primarily Sunni Arab groups with a conservative, Salafist religious ideology. Salafist groups traditionally kept out of politics, and their conservative Sunni ideology was useful in Saudi Arabia's competition against Iran and its own Shiite proxies. Promoting Salafism also served as a tool to limit the reach of more ideologically moderate Sunni political Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, groups Riyadh sees as a threat because of their success in organizing grassroots support and fighting for democratic reforms.....
Ajit Kumar Singh
Secretary General's statement remains far from reality. Afghanistan today is unsecure and volatile, and is home to a multiplicity of Islamist extremist and terrorist formations that constitute a tremendous and potentially global threat. Moreover, the grave risks located in the wider Af-Pak region, and the neglect of the principal source of Islamist terrorism in the South Asian region - Pakistan - was studiously ignored through the period of ISAF's engagement in Afghanistan, despite the continuous losses inflicted on ISAF personnel and infrastructure by terrorist formations located on Pakistani soil. Afghanistan is now utterly exposed to the dangers of a proxy war by the Pakistani state backing the Taliban.....
Like all other radical ideologies, Islamism is the product of sociological conditions. Historically, Kurds and Arabs used to organize in hierarchic clan structures. Today, they have reproduced these traditional structures within the political organizations of modern times. In an atmosphere of permanent conflict, if you don't have a clan you take refuge in a clan-like organization. A similar organization is being created based on ideology…..
Bad times have visited the Arabs before, but 2014 was a year from hell. The region stretching from Beirut to Basra continued to slowly disintegrate, with people clinging more than ever to their primordial identities as if the colonial constructs of the Nation-States that emerged after the First World War were only a passing moment. Most Arabs in that part of the ephemeral Arab World are now seeing themselves and are being seen as Sunnis and Shiites, while others are stressing their Christian, Druze, Kurdish, and Turkoman identities….
The fact of the matter is: Pakistan is guilty of genocides, of unrest and terrorism not only in its own land but in neighbouring India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. And it is high time we owned up to it, recognised the terribleness of ourselves, and made it criminal to deny our state’s shortcomings and brutalities. We must start making it criminal to deny our own genocides. Make it criminal to be a Taliban apologist, ostracise and hold accountable anyone who does not outright call their entire cause terrorism and differentiates between “good” and bad Taliban…….
The Muslim world is in the grip of the “foreign hand”, which usually means America. The current myth is that the Islamic State (IS), by killing Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria, is actually working for the Americans because “it is a creation of America”. In Pakistan, add India. Or better still, tag Israel too. At times, it is amazing how inspectors general of police will insist on the “foreign hand”, even after the Taliban has owned up to a big hit. The message behind their insistence is that the Taliban is actually an agent of America, India and Israel. Hafiz Saeed has recently used this device; only this time, no one in Pakistan is prepared to listen….
The term "Takfiri" refers merely to a notion — there is no evidence of Islamist groups misjudging others. For anyone who acknowledges God and the prophet is not an infidel. We cannot know what is inside people's hearts. Death sentences like these must be supported by evidence and witnesses. They must be issued with confidence, not by suspicion….
Successive governments have spent billions of rupees on madrasa reform projects, since a number of notorious militants were associated with various seminaries before they went on killing sprees “in the name of Islam.” The top management of the Wafaq has always rejected allegations of spreading extremism and preaching violence….
There is an Arab saying about depriving people of options. It says: “Don’t break a full loaf of bread and don’t eat from a broken loaf -- but feel free to eat as much as you want.” This is the international community’s response to Palestinian efforts to end the unjust 47-year-old Israeli occupation. When Palestinians use armed resistance, which is legal by international law, they are called terrorists and asked to refrain from acts that endanger the lives of Israelis whose offensive actions against the people of Gaza are “legitimate” self-defence….
Some 23 defendants in 20 cases have been indicted to date, most from Jamaat-e-Islami, which had opposed independence. The tribunal has so far handed down verdicts on 14 defendants – all found guilty of offences including crimes against humanity, murder and rape. Eleven were sentenced to death, two to life in prison and another to 90 years in jail. Two of them have died in prison. The trials of the remaining eight are in progress….
Eyad Abu Shakra
Amid this mood of goodwill Tunisia is taking its first steps on a long path, however we must also keep some interesting facts in mind. Foremost among which is that Tunisia, the pioneer of change in the “Arab Spring”, entered its latest elections in a state of relative stability and broad national consensus. Some may belittle the role of the forces of civil society in achieving this by pointing to the fact that Tunisia has learnt a lot from the tragedies that other countries suffered during this period of momentous…
Even with four Arab states in the throes of chaos – Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen; with Israel hammering Gaza and colonizing the West Bank; with Jordan and Lebanon engulfed by the fallout; there has not been one coherent Arab peace plan. Israel, Turkey and Iran still look the players most able to define the agenda even though they too like their Arab counterparts, declining influence and status internationally. Inter-Arab rivalries are, if anything, worse and often bitter and personal….
Thirty-four years ago, the people of Konya had to take to the streets to shout "Death to the Jew," wave Palestinian flags and chant all possible Quranic slogans -- and clash with the military for doing it. Today, they enjoy the Islamist ritual at the regional congress of the country's ruling party, with "a son of their city" running the show from the seat of the prime minister. Thirty-four years ago, their hearts and minds were united with their Palestinian brothers, but a public "Jerusalem meeting" could earn them a jail sentence.....
Across Indonesia, religious minorities, including Christians and Shia Muslims, have increasingly been harassed, threatened and attacked by Sunni Islamist militant groups like the Islamic Defenders Front. Indonesia’s Setara Institute, which monitors religious freedom in the country, recorded 220 cases of violent attacks on religious minorities in 2013, an increase from 91 such cases in 2007……
Driven by Cold War goals, the Western countries, along with Pakistan, supported and glorified non-state violent groups fighting in Afghanistan against the former USSR. They called their fight a “jihad,” in stark contrast to the real meaning of the word. Thus, the perverse political strategies of these countries, rather than religion, have contributed to making terrorism so common over there. Dumped subsequently by their state supporters, many of these rebels and their followers still scout the subcontinent and beyond, searching for new causes….