How did an Egyptian politician who makes no secret of his links to a jihadi terrorist outfit, outlawed by America, get a visa to visit the USA? How did a Pakistani politician who has made a career of bashing the U.S. be allowed to fundraise inside America.
A U.S. magazine revealed on June 21 that Hani Nour Eldin, a member of the Gamaa Islamiya was granted a visa by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to join a group of Egyptian legislators. Apparently, no one in the State Department knew of the man’s links to the terrorist outfit, even though Eldin openly admits to belonging to the group. A State Department spokesman said, “We have no information suggesting that he or anyone else in the delegation is a member of the Egyptian Islamic Group.”
Anyone with access to an internet search engine would have unearthed the links between Eldin and the banned group, whose spiritual leader is Omar Abdel-Rahman — also known as the “Blind Sheik” — who is serving a life sentence in a U.S prison for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre.
While the Obama Administration maintained the Egyptian delegation was in the U.S. to seek ways of future cooperation between the two countries, it was revealed Eldin met with Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough and asked him for the transfer the “Blind Sheik” Abdel-Rahman to an Egyptian prison.
By U.S. law, Eldin should have been denied a visa to enter the country.
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Gun-slinging goons and fist-fighting fools define a rudderless Arab Spring
The Toronto SUN
The July 6 prime time discussion on Jordan’s JoSat TV about the war in Syria epitomized the fundamental flaws of Arab political discourse.
What started as a heated debate between two politicians on opposing sides of the Syrian civil war, soon descended into the hurling of abuses and insults on live television.
Jordanian MP Muhammad Al-Shawabikah accused former MP Mansour Seif Al-Din Murad of being a “collaborator” of the Syrian regime.
In response, Murad claimed his opponent was working for Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad.
“Shut up,” said one. “No, you shut up,” came the retort. “You are mafia thief,” screamed Murad. Not to be outdone, Al-Shawabikah responded, “To hell with you and your father.”
What happened next stunned the host and the viewers. Al-Shawabikah bent over, pulled off his shoe and hurled it towards Murad, who ducked behind the desk and in doing so wrecked the table. Both men then stood up and lunged at each other for a fistfight. Within seconds, Al-Shawabikah had pulled out a silver pistol from under his belt before the TV transmission was cut off.
Pakistani consular official recalled over sex assault allegation
The Toronto SUN
TORONTO - An official with the Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto has been recalled following an inquiry into a sexual assault allegation.
The married father of two allegedly assaulted a female passport applicant inside the North York consulate in February.
Toronto Police were not called to investigate the matter. Consular officials conducted their own investigation which wrapped up late last month.
After collecting statements from both sides, the investigative committee declared the man was “totally unfit” for government service.
The committee “held the accused guilty of trying to use his position to coax the victim into a locked room with malicious intentions of molesting/physically assaulting her,” said a consular report obtained by the Toronto Sun.
The June 23 report shows that the allegation was reported on Feb. 12 by a “respected community member.” The consular official allegedly took the victim “into an isolated locked room.”
The victim is identified as a Pakistani-Canadian woman from Thorncliffe. The report states that the employee was in charge of MRP (machine-readable passport) processing.
The only people aware of the allegation were the accused, the victim, and committee members.
“Inquiry officers were told to type notes themselves to keep the inquiry confined within the four walls of the office,” reads the report, signed by acting consul general Imran Ali.
The document also states that the woman “did not go to Toronto law enforcement authorities on our assurances that we would hold an impartial inquiry and the culprit would be brought to justice.”
Sources confirmed no attempt was made to stop the woman from going to Toronto Police when the allegation first came to light.
The report also states that the RCMP was informed about the inquiry “to pre-empt embarrassment” if the victim later contacted the authorities. It later acknowledged the possible “negative consequences” if the victim contacted Canadian law enforcement or media.
When asked about the incident, acting consul general Imran Ali issued a statement this week, saying, “We endeavour to run a consulate which works for the welfare of the Pakistani-Canadian community and have personnel rules reinforcing the above principle.”
The report also detailed parts of the man’s defence, noting he accused the woman of “being a liberal and a model” — accusations that the inquiry found “obnoxious and filthy.”
He also allegedly “tried to malign” two junior colleagues during his defence.
Dismissed on June 25, the man is no longer inside the consulate. His visa expires in July.
The report added, “He must be proceeded against by his department for removal of service on grounds of moral turpitude” once in Pakistan. Attempts to reach the man and the complainant were unsuccessful.
Women are "raw meat" waiting to be devoured by men because of their dress, declared an Australian imam in 2006.
Six years later, and in our own backyard, a young convert to Islam, Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana is proposing new laws in Canada that would require women to cover up "like Muslim women," concealing all but their eyes and hands. He contends that the high incidence of rape in North America is because of how women dress in Western countries. The new laws would make it "illegal for women to dress provocatively in the streets," and would thereby take away the freedoms Western women enjoy.
Canadian women would have to be covered up in burkas, abayas and hijabs. They would presumably also be segregated, and their male relatives would monitor and control their behaviour. So what is it about Islamist men and their preoccupation with sex that awakens such paranoia about women's garb?
First, many Islamist men do not understand the imperative of consent in a sexual relationship. They believe rape is a normal rather than a criminal reaction to female physiology, and assume that this would be every man's response to a glimpse of some skin.
The young convert also naively assumes that rape occurs in the Western world more frequently than in the Islamic world. He goes onto to suggest we "should take your example from the way Muslim women dress. Why does Muslim women who wear long dress and covers her head aren't targeted for sex attacks? Why is it that rapists and sexual predators only target women that dress so provocatively? Because Muslim women have nothing to show in regards to her body."
He is dead wrong.
While rape is more often reported here, it occurs with equal if not greater frequency and ferocity in the Middle East and South Asia. Women there suffer violent gang rapes and assaults. Even very young children are tormented by incestuous family members.
Statistical differences also involve definitions of rape. Is sex with a minor rape? Absolutely! Yet Middle Eastern countries like Yemen condone marriage with underage girls--children who are not old enough to give consent or even understand the concept. And what about marital rape? Since a Muslim wife is supposed to comply with her husband's sexual demands at all times, the issue of her consent becomes irrelevant under Sharia Law. Women can be beaten by their husbands if they refuse sex. They are forced, at times violently, to comply with their husbands' wishes.
All this occurs in countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, where women are required to cover up. In civilized countries on the other hand, men recognize the value of consent, a fact not altered by the aberrant behaviour of a minority.
No two cases of rape are identical. Rape may occur in situations where "signals" are mistaken as consent. At its worst, rape is of course a manifestation of criminal pathology. Here in North America we can at least be grateful that society rejects rape in any form, in any situation, and no matter what a woman chooses to wear.
According to Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana, men are so depraved that if given the opportunity, they will pounce on a woman if she is scantily clad. He requires Western women to change their attitudes in order to check the incidence of rape in North America. Yet it is really those like Atangana who need to change. They need to realize that the responsibility of rape rests entirely with perpetrators of the crime, and that women have the right to dress whichever way they like. His exhortation for everyone to embrace Sharia shows that he has no idea that sexual crimes persist, at a horrifying level, in the kind of society he advocates.
-- Dr. Hassan is an author and a former president of the Muslim Canadian Congress
Canadian laws should be changed to require women to "cover themselves" to prevent sexual assaults, says an Islamic street preacher in Toronto.
Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana, a 33-year-old Islamic convert, called for legal change in response to recent sex attacks at York University.
Atangana is connected with a group called Muslim Support Network and is one of a number of street-corner clerics commonly seen at the Yonge and Dundas Sts.
In an e-mail to the Toronto Sun, Atangana said "the reason ... these sex attacks are continuously happening is because (of) Canadian laws, which give too much freedom to women" when it comes to how they dress.
"You should take your example from the way Muslim women dress," he wrote. "Why does (sic) Muslim women who wear long dress and covers her head aren't targeted for sex attacks?"
The clash between western culture and values and the beliefs of some Muslim adherents has been a source of controversy and conflict across North America.
Atangana, who plans to distribute his views on paper in the coming weeks, went on to state that "the reason ... a woman gets raped is because of the way she (dresses)," and suggests that "Toronto (become) the first city in North America to introduce laws that would make it illegal for women to dress provocatively."
If Toronto did this, Atangana said in an interview, other Canadian cities would follow suit.
"If (women) want to prevent being sexually assaulted, they should cover themselves," said Atangana, adding that while he doesn't expect Western women to dress as Muslim women do, they should have a "dress code" and take note of the burka the head scarf and face veil some Muslim females wear.
Atangana says he began planning to distribute his views after a recent spate of sex assaults at York University's Keele campus, and praised Const. Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto police officer who ended up in hot water after telling students at a York University safety forum in January that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" if they didn't want to be victimized.
The website Atangana provided for his group, Muslimsupport.net, is sparsely populated but contains links to other sites that offer advice on conversion to Islam and Islamic dress, including such advice as this:
"Men must cover their body from the navel to the knees. But when praying he must also cover his shoulder."
"Women must cover their whole body except the face, hands and feet while inside. But they are also required to cover their whole body including a part of the face while going out, according to the majority of the Madhabs (school of taught)."
Moderate Muslim writer Tarek Fatah says Atangana's view is a stark example of radical Islamist misogyny. It is an example, Fatah says, of passages taken from the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, and exaggerated to fit an antiquated, patriarchal ideology such as that of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"This is not about what women wear," Fatah said. "This is about ... some Muslim men believing that any woman whose head is uncovered is fair game because she is lustful...and doesn't belong to the pious (Islamic) sisterhood."
Fatah says it is "hogwash" to think a woman wearing traditional Islamic dress will not be sexually assaulted, and points to an on-going problem of sexual harassment in Egypt, where Muslim faith dominates.
According to a 2008 report from the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, 83% of Egyptian women had experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault at some point. And well, over half of those surveyed around 70% wore veils of some kind, particularly head scarves.
"These results disprove the belief that sexual harassment is linked to the way women dress," the report states. "This confirms that the stereotypical ideas of a patriarchal culture that blames women even if they are victims, is opposite to reality."
But Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women sees things differently: Atangana's opinions are not as much to do with Islam as much as they reflect a general patriarchal desire among some men to control women.
"There is absolutely no connection between how women dress and being sexually assaulted," Hogben said, adding that other religions from Judaism to Christianity have traditional dress codes of their own. She did agree, however, that "good, pious" Muslim women are sexually harassed, despite wearing modest and traditional clothing.
"If (Atangana) thinks good, pious Muslim women are not sexually assaulted, he's wrong. If he thinks this is not happening in India or Egypt ... it is not true."
As for Atangana, who converted to Islam in 1998 after finding the Trinity of Christianity the belief in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit too "confusing," he remains steadfast in his views.
"Women here should have a dress code," he says. "That would prevent sexual assault."
Last March, when Toronto police Const. Michael Sanguinetti asked women to dress modestly to prevent sexual assault, feminists erupted into an uproar, organizing a “Slut Walk” in protest. But when Toronto Islamic street cleric Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana utters similar nonsense, my feminist sisters just let out a collective yawn.
So, no slutwalks condemning Muslims, eh? Or is this really just the racism of lower expectations?
There’s no point in getting angry at Atangana, the 33-yearold convert to Islam, who believes women are to blame if they are sexually assaulted because of how they dress.
He is new to Islam. His newly acquired zeal no doubt comes from teachings he received from the well-funded, Canada-wide mosque structure and its Islamic leadership, that shares Atangana’s medieval mindset.
Over the last decade these Islamists have become sophisticated enough to wrap their odious misogyny in carefully crafted language that caters to multiculturalism, inter-faith dialogue and pluralism.
Speaking on SunNews, Atangana compared a woman to a bag overflowing with a million dollars. Defending his advocacy of the encasing of Muslim women in black tents, he argued that just as you would protect your money from being stolen, so you should protect your woman by covering her up, lest she be raped.
This mindset, one that equates women with possessions, rather than seeing them as fellow human beings, can lead to very dangerous results.
While they supposedly protect their own, many Islamist men feel free to prey on non Muslim women, or Muslim women whom they feel are not properly covered.
This has led to a sharp rise in rape and sexual assault by Muslim men across the Islamic world, and in the West, where millions ofMuslims now live.
Norway & UK
In Norway, Oslo police reported in 2009 that statistics for the previous three years showed all rapes in the city had been committed by immigrants, mostlyMuslims. It was a shocking revelation.
In Britain last month, nine Muslims of Pakistani ancestry were convicted of being involved with a gang that groomed white, teenaged girls for sex and prostitution.
Atangana’s delusion that “covered” women do not face sexual assault does not withstand the slightest scrutiny.
Just last week it was revealed by the Sun that a Muslim Canadian woman was allegedly sexually assaulted inside the consulate office of the Pakistan embassy. The woman, by all accounts, was modestly dressed, but that apparently did not prevent a Muslim man from using his power to try to force himself on her sexually.
Not a single mosque or mullah has denounced this reported sexual assault.
Pakistan & Egypt
In Pakistan, rape of fully covered Muslim women is not a rare occurrence. Recently CNN aired a documentary on rape in Pakistan, highlighting the case of a 13-year old girl, gang-raped by five men. The child was not just modestly dressed, she was wearing a full-face niqab.
From Egypt, we have statistics that more than 80% of women report being sexually assaulted on the streets.
Yet, in an e-mail to the Toronto Sun, Atangana has the audacity to say: “You (Canada) should take your example from the wayMuslim women dress. Why does (sic) Muslimwomen whowear long dress and covers her head aren’t targeted for sex attacks?”
As far as the Qur’an is concerned, in verse 24:31, God commands women to dress modestly and “to cover your breasts.” That’s it. To invoke this verse to justify encasing Muslim women in black tents and facemasks, while depicting non-Muslim women as sluts, is not only immoral, but a complete distortion of Islam itself.
"Taliban in Afghanistan; Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; Shia clerics loyal to Iran in Iraq; al-Qaida in Northern Mali and the ISI-Jihadis in Pakistan. It’s time to say thank you, but no thank you America."
Hillary Clinton may have expected a rejoicing crowd, chanting “Thank You America” as she landed in Egypt. After all, her State Department and the Obama administration had helped the Egyptian people overthrow a military dictator.
Instead, what she received was a barrage of tomatoes and shoes thrown at her by an angry Egyptian crowd who were clearly convinced the Americans had facilitated the takeover of Egypt by the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
As Clinton met with Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest America’s uncritical support for the new Islamist regime in Cairo. Protesters held signs reading “Message to Hillary: Egypt will never be Pakistan,” and “If you like the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood], take them with you!”
The anti-American demonstrators in Cairo were not the radical left. They were mostly Egyptian liberals who espouse values that are entirely in sync with the values of America. But they feel betrayed. According to Gulf News, the turnout in the capital to protest against Clinton was well over half-a-million strong. This number went largely unreported.
The fact that Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and close aide, Saudi-educated Huma Abedin has family ties with the Muslim Brotherhood has led many bloggers talking about the reach of the Brotherhood inside the State Department.
Huma Abedin’s mother, Saleha Abedin and Egyptian President Mursi’s wife are both part of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood’s women’s wing, the Muslim Sisterhood. This has given added ammunition to reports the Islamist reach and influence in American foreign policy goes right to the top.
This led to five members of the U.S. Congress writing to inspector generals in the state, homeland security, defence and justice departments, asking them to investigate potential “policies and activities that appear to be the result of influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The renowned Egyptian scholar, Samir Amin once said:
“Never have the armies of the North brought peace, prosperity, or democracy to the peoples of Asia, Africa, or Latin America.”
Some may argue that Amin was exaggerating, but a cursory glance of what the United States administrations have delivered to the peoples of the “South” would give credence to the 80-year old historian’s observation.
In the post-9/11 world, the U.S. has left a trail of destruction. An outcome of a mediocre foreign policy that is dictated and relies on muscle and money, not the values that are the foundation of America — freedom and liberty.
The invasion of Iraq and the subsequent destruction of Iraqi society is for the Iraqis to resolve, but the de facto handing over of the country into the hands of America’s enemy, Iran, is a classic example of failed and bankrupt policies that are put into effect without a thought for the long-term consequences.
Afghanistan is another example. The Americans are more than happy to give the reins of the ruined country to the newly minted “moderate” Taliban.
And now war drums are beating to invade Syria and throttle Iran.
Taliban in Afghanistan; Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; Shia clerics loyal to Iran in Iraq; al-Qaida in Northern Mali and the ISI-Jihadis in Pakistan.
It’s time to say thank you, but no thank you America.
It started as a letter by five members of the U.S. Congress to various security agencies asking them to investigate whether there was undue influence exercised within the U.S. government by staff influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.
That request, however, backfired into a furious denunciation of the five, especially Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who is being depicted as a latter-day Joe McCarthy.
What upset U.S. lawmakers, ranging from Republican Sen. John McCain to Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison -- America's first Muslim congressman -- was Bachmann's reference to Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, whose parents are said to have affiliations with organizations linked to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
"Given that the U.S. government has established in federal court that the Muslim Brotherhood's mission in the United States is 'destroying the Western civilization from within' -- a practice the Brothers call 'civilization jihad' -- we believe that the apparent involvement of those with such ties raises serious security concerns that warrant your urgent attention."
To put this in context, imagine a political aide to Henry Kissinger being the daughter of two members of the Soviet communist party politburo. There would have been hell to pay.
If the international communist movement posed an ideological threat to the foundational values of the USA and its allies, the challenge posed by the Islamofascist ideology of the jihadi movement is no less. Embedded across the Islamic world as political parties and terrorist groups, the most sophisticated manifestation of their activity is the role of the Jamaat-e-Islami in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent and the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab World, with both political movements active inside the United States, Canada and Europe.
So far the allegations about Huma Abedin's parents is coming from the Center for Security Policy headed by Frank Gaffney, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration; an Egyptian newspaper al Liwaa al Arabi; Andrew McCarthy, the lead prosecutor at the 1995 World Trade Center terrorism trial, and some other right wing blogs. In summary, here is what they allege:
The father: Prof. Zainul Abedin
Huma's father, Syed Zainul Abedin moved from the US to Saudi Arabia in 1977 with his wife, Saleha, and their two-year-old daughter. In Jeddah, Prof Abedin founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA), with offices in both Saudi Arabia, and London, England. In addition, he was a counselor of the Râbitat al-'Alam al-Islâmî, also known as the Muslim World League (MWL) during the 1980s. Both organisations were Islamist in nature and shared the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood. The senior Abedin died in 1993.
The mother: Prof. Saleha Abedin
Huma's mother Saleha Abedin took over IMMA after the death of her husband while serving as a Professor in the Department of Sociology, at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. More recently, she has been part of the administration of Dar Al-Hekma Women's College, which she helped to create. Earlier this year the Egyptian newspaper al Liwaa al Arabi made the claim, Prof Saleha Abedin belongs to the Brotherhood's secret women's division known as the Muslim Sisterhood also known known as the International Women's Organization (IWO). Significantly, Huma Abedin's mother leads the Sisterhood alongside the wife of president Muhammad Mursi of Egypt.
This allegation may very well be untrue, but the fact remains the writings of Huma Abedin's mother in the IMMA journal are for all to read. In her work, Prof. Abedin promotes the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist ideology without any hesitation, and his harshly critical of western culture and civilization that ostensibly her daughter wishes to serve.
If there was any doubt about the extremist nature of the Muslim Brotherhood, it was cleared by FBI Director Robert Mueller who told a sitting of the US House Select Committee on Intelligence:
"I can say at the outset that elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, both here [USA] and overseas have supported terrorism. To the extent that I can provide information, I would be happy to do so in closed session, but it would be difficult to do it in open session."
It is therefore no surprise that some American lawmakers have raised the alarm about a jihadi anti-American political party having influence on U.S. foreign or domestic policies.
And if there was a single event that triggered suspicions the Muslim Brotherhood was influencing American foreign policy in the Middle East, it was at a congressional hearing in February 2011.
As stunned members of the U.S. Congress looked on in disbelief, the head of the U.S. Department of National Intelligence, James Clapper, portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as a "largely secular" group.
What made the quote more disturbing was the fact Clapper was not caught making an off the cuff remark, but was relying on prepared notes. The question that remains unanswered is, who in the State Department or the White House prepared the briefing note for Clapper?
Had this been an isolated incident, it could easily be shrugged off, but it was not.
In April 2009, during the G20 Summit, while greeting Saudi King Abdullah, President Obama stooped lowand took a deep bow to hold the monarch's outstretched palm with both of his hands. What was Obama thinking? Not even Pakistani rulers who live off Saudi largesse have ever shown such servitude.
Who advised Obama to subject himself and America to that humiliation?
The same year, Obama decided to reach out to the Muslim world. However, instead of going to Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim country and where the president was raised, he chose Egypt.
In Cairo he insisted that the Muslim Brotherhood be invited to hear him speak and that they be given prominent seating positions among the audience. In doing so, the American president sent a clear message that the U.S. was bestowing official recognition to a banned group as the true representatives of Muslims as against those Muslims who aspire a liberal secular democracy, free from the oppressive authoritarianism of medieval sharia law.
Who in his administration was responsible for according the Brotherhood recognition at the expense of other Muslim political parties?
If this gesture to the Brotherhood was not enough, in 2010 the State Department followed it with the lifting of a visa ban on Tariq Ramadan, a known supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and grandson of Brotherhood founder, Hassan al-Banna. Someone, somewhere in the State Department and the White House made the decision to lift the ban on Tariq Ramadan. Is it too much to ask who influenced this decision?
Among the Islamist clerics who actively pursue a campaign of hatred towards the West, the most prominent is the Qatar-based spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, the wealthy Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi.
We now learn that this hate-monger's daughter Siham al-Qaradawi was awarded the State Department's Fulbright scholarship for the academic year 2010-2011. Is it too much to ask how the daughter of the world's most anti-American cleric managed to get the U.S. tax payers to fund her higher studies? Perhaps she does not support her father's hateful ideology, but in the absence of any evidence, is it McCarthyism to ask how the Qaradawi daughter became a guest of the US State Department or who was responsible?
It is not just the Qaradawi daughter. Just last month, the U.S. State Department intervened to issue a visa to a known jihadi radical, Egyptian politician Hani Noureddin, a member of the banned Gamaa Islamiya. Who authorized the visa Hani Noureddin, the man who in his meetings with U.S. officials demanded that the Blind Sheik serving a life sentence for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing, be released.
And from Pakistan, the Islamist politician Imran Khan was given a visa to speak at a July 4 fundraiser in Houston to fund his anti-American campaign to block supplies to NATO troops. Is it not the right of a any American, let alone a member of the House of Representatives to ask who authorised an anti-American jihadi politician to do fund-raising in America, and that too on the auspices day of July 4?
Michelle Bachman may not be America's brightest politician, but she and her colleagues are asking legitimate questions, which it seems, are making the Washington establishment very uncomfortable.
It is patently unfair to mock Bachman for her incredulously ridiculous statements on other matters, and project that idiocy of her past to evade the question she has raised. To label her a right-wing racist and a latter-day McCarthyist may deflect attention away from the issue and 50 years from now when State Department papers of our time are made public, the truth will come out. Some of us would like to see that truth today.
As far as Huma Abedin is concerned, she is a bright woman and a role model for Muslim Americans, especially young women who have not succumbed to the pressures of wearing the hijab. So little is known about this stunningly beautiful child of Indo-Pakistani parents that one aide to then Senator Clinton told a reporter, "No one knows anything about her ... She's like Hillary's secret weapon."
Her ability to leave a lasting impression extends beyond politicians. The legendary designer Oscar de la Renta once said, "This might seem too over-saccharine, but I love Huma." He recalled that she had great style, but hastened to point out that "she's a Muslim" and "she's very conservative."
No wonder Senator John McCain, who also knows Huma Abedin well, went against his own party colleagues to bat for the woman who seems to have bowled over much of DC by her poise and beauty as well as her brains. As early as 2007, Sen. McCain was quoted as saying, "She is a person of enormous intellect with in-depth knowledge on a number of issues -- especially issues pertaining to the Middle East."
Just a year ago McCain had thrashed the Muslim Brotherhood in an interview with the German magazine, Der Spiegel, describing the Islamist political party as "a radical group that first of all supports Sharia law ... [who] have been involved with other terrorist organizations."
In the interview titled, "Dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood," McCain said he believed "they should be specifically excluded from any transition government [in Egypt]. He then went to say, "I am deeply, deeply concerned that this whole movement could be hijacked by radical Islamic extremists."
It seems Senator McCain simply could not entertain the idea that the fashionable 5'6" Huma Abedin could possibly share the political ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood that he himself so abhors. One would have expected him to say "I have talked to Huma about Islamism and she is no apologist for the Brotherhood," but he didn't.
For him, it did not matter that Huma was raised as a child and educated in Saudi Arabia's strict segregated sharia-based society, or that her parents chose to abandon the USA after getting American passports to settle down and serve the most archaic and misogynist societies on earth. For him, it seems, Huma's political or ideological bent of mind was inconsequential. All that mattered was that she broke every stereotype of the Muslim woman and did it in style. That alone seemed to have won him over. He is not alone.
Few if any know anything about Abedin's ideological leaning. The Democratic super-fundraiser Robert Zimmerman is so impressed by her, he says, "I'm so fond of Huma, if she were to run for office, I would volunteer for her campaign." But when pressed for any biographical details about his prospective candidate, Zimmerman said, "I really don't know much of her back story."
But now her "back story" needs to be told. Many Americans would like to know more of Huma Abedin and her political leanings, not just the way People magazine portrayed her, but as the centre of a political storm. She owes it to America to tell it whether she shares her parents' ideological affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood or not.
This is important because lost in the din of media attacks against the Bachman Five is the fact that both her parents have been closely associated with Saudi-based organisations that were and are Islamist in nature and reflect the ideology and political doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood. Both were members of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) while studying in the US. MSA is, by the Muslim Brotherhood's own admission, one of their organisations.
The argument that Huma Abedin should not be judged on the political leanings of her parents is absolutely valid. After all the son of another leading Islamist, Syed Maududi turned out to be his harshest critic. Didn't Stalin's daughter turn against her own father?
The problem is that we now find out that Huma Abedin herself was, until late 2008, not only a member of her mother's Islamist organization, the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA), she was an assistant editor.
Andrew McCarthy, who was the lead prosecutor at the 1995 terrorism trial of the Blind Sheik writes that past mastheads of the IMMA's journal have Huma Abedin listed as an assistant editor (to her mother, the editor-in-chief) as far back as 1996, the year she began interning at the Clinton White House.
"The IMMA," he writes "was started in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s by Huma Abedin's parents, with the backing of Abdullah Omar Naseef ... former secretary-general of the Muslim World League, which... has long been the Muslim Brotherhood's principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology. Under the auspices of the MWL, Naseef not only backed the IMMA, he founded the Rabita Trust, which ... is a specially designated international terrorist organization under federal law."
The sooner Huma Abedin steps up to the plate and clears the air, the better it will be for all of us who have admired her rise in stock in the toughest capital of the world. No child should have to pay for their parents' writings or politics, and neither should Huma.
All she needs to do is say she does not share the Islamist political ideology of her mother and that mother and daughter differ comprehensively in their views about the role of women in society. Once that is done, this father of two Muslim daughters will once again celebrate Huma Abedin as my own, as a shining example of what North America offers to its Muslim citizens, if they deserve it .
Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy is Pakistan's leading peace activist. A former MIT physicist, he is at times a lonely voice against Pakistan adopting nuclear weapons. He is among the very few leftists who recognize the danger of Islamism and the threat this fascist death cult poses to human civilization.
In this piece for the socialist magazine Viewpoint, Hoodbhoy argues "Today there is only the cruel choice between continued American presence and Taliban rule."
He laments the romanticism of his fellow leftists who he says "imagine that a mythical Afghan 'working class' will pop up from nowhere and somehow stop the Taliban from moving in as fast as the Americans move out."
Hoodbhoy taunts his fellow lefties, "Face it, comrades. What the Americans did in Afghanistan pales before the crimes committed by the Taliban government, 1996-2001."
After a trillion dollars and 2000 dead Americans, there is precious little to show as the U.S. heads towards its 2014 exit. America’s primary goal had been to create a stable, non-hostile Afghan government and army which could stop extremist groups from once again using Afghan territory as a base. But Hamid Karzai is already on the way out, rapid desertions could collapse the Afghan National Army, and only die-hards like Marine Gen. John Allen say that the U.S. can win. The Taliban are smelling victory.
America’s failure drives many bearded folks – and Imran Khan’s thoughtless supporters – into fits of ecstasy. It also delights some Pakistani leftists at home and abroad; imperialism has been humbled. Some comrades imagine that a mythical Afghan “working class” – whatever that might mean – will pop up from nowhere and somehow stop the Taliban from moving in as fast as the Americans move out. Do they also hope for snowflakes in summer?
Foreign occupation is usually cruel, and it is easy to understand how the Americans have alienated Afghans with serial murderers like Sergeant Bales, Quran burnings, and aerial bombings of wedding parties. One certainly wishes they had never come to this part of the world and, particularly, that Pakistan had not become their willing pawn in the great anti-Soviet jihad.
But history cannot be undone. Today there is only the cruel choice between continued American presence and Taliban rule. Of course, by some miracle, the Afghan National Army could perhaps hang on with the help of American air power. But for this to happen, even the Almighty might be hard pressed.
Face it, comrades. What the Americans did in Afghanistan pales before the crimes committed by the Taliban government, 1996-2001. As the people of Swat were also to see a decade later, these lords of war reduced society to unspeakable barbarity. They proscribed music and sports in Afghanistan, inflicted harsh punishments upon men for trimming their beards, flogged taxi drivers for carrying women passengers, prevented sick women from being treated by male physicians, and banished girls from schools and women from the work place. Bodies of opponents swung from Kabul’s lamp posts for days before being taken down. Iran denounced the new Pakistan-supported victors as “fanatical, mediaeval Taliban” after they slaughtered 5000 Shias in Bamiyan province.
The Taliban are the most retrograde political movement in the history of Islam. But today some Pakistani TV commentators, with an eye towards pleasing GHQ, prattle away about the “new Taliban” being different from the “old Taliban”. It’s complete poppycock. One hears of atrocities almost every day: wherever the Taliban are strong in Afghanistan or Pakistan, they are back to their sick habits of summary executions, stoning women and men to death, and chopping hands. Just go to Google and find videos posted by the Taliban proudly advertising their atrocities.
For those friends who plan to pop champagne in Islamabad, Lahore, or London to celebrate the American exit, here’s a simple challenge. Leave your make-believe world, go live under Taliban rule and, if you are fortunate enough to return, tell us how it was. If you are Shia, Hazara, woman, or one who cannot be silent upon witnessing wanton cruelty, be sure to say goodbye to your loved ones.
Instead of the Taliban, our comrades are free to pick from any of the following replacements of American imperial rule: Hezb-e-Wahdat, Hezb-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Islami, or ten others. Whichever you choose doesn’t really matter. I suspect that this will knock out their anti-imperialist rhetoric pretty fast.
Call the international community scum if you like. But, compared to a decade ago, Afghan women today are said to live an average of 15 years longer than they did a decade ago because of better health care, nutrition and increased GDP. Tell us what the bearded folks plan to bring instead?
So what is the future of Afghanistan after 2014?
There is zero chance of a secular, pluralistic democracy. Tribal Afghan society, locked into primitive concepts of honor and revenge, is likely to remain unenlightened and torn apart by internal conflicts for generations to come. Afghans are already bracing for civil war after 2014.
The only question is: what could be the least bad outcome? Since we Pakistanis must live with a theocracy next door, then one can only wish for a relatively enlightened version rather than a barbaric one.
A relatively peaceful future will require that power in post-withdrawal Afghanistan be pluralistically shared by the country’s diverse ethnic groups: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, etc. The alternative is limitless butchery.
Regional actors can and must prevent this, as well as prevent a repeat of earlier Taliban horrors. To this end, Pakistan should give up its craving for “strategic depth”, Iran should be brought in to the picture by the U.S as a helpful ally, India should refrain from intrusions into Afghanistan that might antagonize Pakistan, and China must not signal the Taliban that it can fund them in exchange for mining rights. None of this is likely. But in despair one sometimes asks even for the moon.
Who would have thought a Canadian mother of two would leave her children behind and join the international jihad unfolding in Syria?
Meet Thwaiba Kanafani. She left the comforts of her apartment in downtown Toronto, soon to appear in a YouTube video dressed in camouflaged battle gear, holding an automatic assault rifle, to declare: “I came from Canada to answer the call of my homeland” as the men surrounding her chanted “Allah O Akbar.”
Kanafani is not alone. A Dutch journalist who was kidnapped by rebels inside Syria, along with his British colleague, reports some of his abductors had “Birmingham accents,” while others were from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Chechnya, with no Syrians present.
Reports of non-Syrian jihadis have been confirmed by correspondents of both the Guardian and the New York Times who say foreign fighters under the banner of al-Qaida’s black flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith, “There is no god but God,” are taking a bigger role.
The jihadis are the best-funded and well-equipped of the groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.
While the American-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) had its own share of U.S.-based Islamists pulling the strings, it is now clear these jihadis-in-suits will not be the ones determining the future of Syria when the doctor dictator is gone. Very soon, Damascus will get a taste of al-Qaida’s hatred of life and their yearning for death as they have demonstrated in the last couple of months.
In one attack by the al-Qaida fighters on the historic Damascus district of Zainabiya, the fighters made no effort to hide the al- Qaida flag. Some wore the black head bands while others wore the flags of Pakistan, Somalia, and other Muslim countries. They killed Shia residents and pilgrims as they tried to destroy the shrines of Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter Hazrat Zainab and Ruqaiya. At least one Afghan family was slaughtered inside their home.
One al-Qaida commander inside Syria, Abu Khuder, had this to say about foreign jihadis: “In the beginning there were very few. Now, mashallah, there are immigrants joining us and bringing their experience … Men from Yemen, Saudi, Iraq and Jordan ... (al-Qaida’s) goal is establishing an Islamic state and not a Syrian state.”
The role of America in Syria seems at best incompetent and disastrous.
However, evidence suggests there is a method in the madness of the Obama Administration. Instead of helping the democratic forces of Syria it has dilly-dallied on the sidelines until the Islamists managed to get an upper hand. The same cowardice was demonstrated when Iran’s democrats rose up in 2009.
One of the leaders of the Syrian al-Qaida is Abdelhakim Belhadj, a Libyan accomplice of Osama bin Laden who, according to former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, was suspected of complicity in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
Belhadj was arrested by the CIA, but then released under mysterious circumstances and returned to Libya where he facilitated the U.S.-NATO overthrowing of Col. Moammar Gahdafi.
Now the same Libyan ally of NATO has been parachuted inside Syria with the help of the Turkish government.
Reportedly, 15,000 Syrians have given their lives to fight a dictator, and Belhadj’s presence in the war-torn country could make it a hell on earth.
If there ever was an incident that demonstrated the intellectual and scientific bankruptcy of the Muslim intelligentsia, it was news that a Pakistani 'engineer' had invented a process that allowed automobiles to run on water, instead of gasoline.
Not just the country's inept politicians, but also the leading scientists, including the father-of-Pakistan's-nuclear-bomb, the infamous smuggler AQ Khan, joined the chorus. The hysteria was not restricted to the uneducated, but even among the North American diaspora where it was being called Pakistan' Ramadan-Miracle, a gift from Allah.
However, not everyone was swept away in this tide. A leading scientist Dr. Ata Khan rebutted the BS on TV and now Prof Pervez Hoodbhoy has written a stinging rebuke about the state of affairs in Pakistan. He wrote:
"In a few short days, he has exposed just how far Pakistan has fallen into the pit of ignorance and self-delusion. No practical joker could have demonstrated more dramatically the true nature of our country’s political leaders, popular TV anchors and famed scientists."
The writer received his bachelor degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics, as well as masters and Ph.D degrees, from MIT
Agha Waqar Ahmad deserves a medal from the people of Pakistan for his great service to the nation. In a few short days, he has exposed just how far Pakistan has fallen into the pit of ignorance and self-delusion. No practical joker could have demonstrated more dramatically the true nature of our country’s political leaders, popular TV anchors and famed scientists.
At first, it sounded like a joke: a self-styled engineer, trained in Khairpur’s polytechnic institute, claims to have invented a ‘water kit’ enabling any car to run on water alone. It didn’t matter that the rest of world couldn’t extract energy from water; he had done it. He promised a new Pakistan with limitless energy, no need for petrol or gas, and no more loadshedding. For an energy starved nation, it is a vision of paradise.
Agha Waqar Ahmad is now a national celebrity thanks to Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah. Federal ministers Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and Qamar Zaman Kaira have added their commendations. President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed his delight. The cabinet has met three times to discuss the water vehicle, and a fourth meeting is scheduled. Reports suggest millions may be spent on the ‘water fuel kit project’.
The media has rushed in to celebrate the new national hero. For TV anchor Talat Husain, thanks to Agha Waqar Ahmad’s invention, Pakistan’s image can go from a country ravaged by terrorism to one of boundless possibilities. Anchor Hamid Mir and Senator Parvaiz Rasheed drove around Islamabad sitting next to the inventor, wondering how to protect the man’s life from Western oil companies. Anchor Arshad Sharif was euphoric about the $14 billion Pakistan would save on oil imports.
Pakistan’s most celebrated scientists were not far behind. Asked by Anchor Sharif whether a car could run only on water, nuclear hero Dr Samar Mubarakmand replied without hesitation: “jee haan, bilkul ho sakta hai” (yes, absolutely possible). For his part, Hamid Mir asked Dr AQ Khan if there was any chance of this being a fraud. The response was clear: “Main nay apnay level per investigate kiya hai aur koi fraud waraud nahi kiya hai” (I have investigated the matter and there is no fraud involved). The head of the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr Shaukat Parvaiz, went further: “hum nay bhi iss pay kam karaya tha” (we had some work done on this too).
So, what is the problem? It’s that the laws of physics, in particular a fundamental scientific principle known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, impose inviolable constraints. Every machine constructed anywhere uses the Second Law. This is something that I learned in my first year as a student at MIT and have taught for 40 years. No serious scientist would dream of challenging the Second Law. Agha Waqar Ahmad’s ‘water kit’, if one believes science to be right, simply cannot work. What the inventor, the ministers, the anchors and scientists claim on TV is wrong.
To his credit, the only person on TV that seemed to know this elementary principle was Dr Attaur Rahman, a chemist and a former HEC chairman. I have not agreed with all his actions and views in the past, but he alone rejected the claims about the new machine. Sadly, he was not able to hold back the tide of a nation desperate for any answer to its energy woes.
The water fraud will be exposed soon enough and, like a bad posterior smell, will go away. A simple experiment will make this happen faster. Here’s how: take an emergency electricity generator, of which there are thousands in Islamabad. Its engine is similar to that in a car. Remove the fuel tank and make sure the ‘water kit’ contains only water. Then ask the inventor to connect it up and run the generator. Let there be enough sharp-eyed witnesses of intelligence and integrity.
But this episode raises bigger questions. Scientific frauds exist in other countries, but what explains their spectacular success in Pakistan? Answer: our leaders are lost in the dark, fumbling desperately for a miracle; our media is chasing spectacle, not truth; and our great scientists care more about being important than about evidence. It is easy for them all to get away with this. As a nation, we have proven unwilling to do the hard work needed to learn to reason, to be sceptical, to demand proof, to understand even basic science. It is easier to believe the world is run by magic and conspiracies, to wish and wait for Aladin’s magic lamp. We live in the age of jahilliya.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.
My first contact with Islam was in Afghanistan. I had been through Iran overland to get there, but it was in the days of the Shah’s White Revolution, which had given rights to women and had secularized society (with the aid of a little detention, without trial, and torture). In my naive, historicist way, I assumed that secularization was an irreversible process, like the breaking of eggs: that once people had seen the glory of life without compulsory obeisance to the men of God, they would never turn back to them as the sole guides to their lives and politics.
Afghanistan was different, quite clearly a pre-modern society. The vast, barren landscapes in the crystalline air were impossibly romantic, and the people (that is to say the men, for women were not much in evidence) had a wild dignity and nobility. Their mien was aristocratic. Even their hospitality was fierce. They carried more weapons in daily life than the average British commando in wartime. You knew that they would defend you to the death, if necessary—or cut your throat like a chicken’s, if necessary. Honor among them was all.
On the whole I was favorably impressed. I thought that they were freer than we. I thought nothing of such matters as the clash of civilizations, and experienced no desire, and felt no duty, to redeem them from their way of life in the name of any of my own civilization’s ideals. Impressed by the aesthetics of Afghanistan and unaware of any fundamental opposition or tension between the modern and the pre-modern, I saw no reason why the West and Afghanistan should not rub along pretty well together, each in its own little world, provided only that each respected the other.
I was with a group of students, and our appearance in the middle of a country then seldom visited was almost a national event. At any rate, we put on extracts of Romeo and Juliet in the desert, in which I had a small part, and the crown prince of Afghanistan (then still a kingdom) attended. He arrived in Afghanistan’s one modern appurtenance: a silver convertible Mercedes sports car—I was much impressed by that. Little did I think then that lines from the play—those of Juliet’s plea to her mother to abrogate an unwanted marriage to Paris, arranged and forced on her by her father, Capulet—would so uncannily capture the predicament of some of my Muslim patients in Britain more than a third of a century after my visit to Afghanistan, and four centuries after they were written:
Is there no pity sitting in the clouds That sees into the bottom of my grief? O sweet my mother, cast me not away! Delay this marriage for a month, a week,
Or if you do not, make the bridal bed In that dim monument where Tybalt lies.
How often have I been consulted by young Muslim women patients, driven to despair by enforced marriages to close relatives (usually first cousins) back “home” in India and Pakistan, who have made such an unavailing appeal to their mothers, followed by an attempt at suicide!
Capulet’s attitude to his refractory daughter is precisely that of my Muslim patients’ fathers:
Look to’t, think on’t, I do not use to jest. Thursday is near, lay hand on heart, advise: And you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend; And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, For by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee,
Nor what is mine shall ever do thee good.
In fact the situation of Muslim girls in my city is even worse than Juliet’s. Every Muslim girl in my city has heard of the killing of such as she back in Pakistan, on refusal to marry her first cousin, betrothed to her by her father, all unknown to her, in the earliest years of her childhood. The girl is killed because she has impugned family honor by breaking her father’s word, and any halfhearted official inquiry into the death by the Pakistani authorities is easily and cheaply bought off. And even if she is not killed, she is expelled from the household—O sweet my mother, cast me not away!—and regarded by her “community” as virtually a prostitute, fair game for any man who wants her.
This pattern of betrothal causes suffering as intense as any I know of. It has terrible consequences. One father prevented his daughter, highly intelligent and ambitious to be a journalist, from attending school, precisely to ensure her lack of Westernization and economic independence. He then took her, aged 16, to Pakistan for the traditional forced marriage (silence, or a lack of open objection, amounts to consent in these circumstances, according to Islamic law) to a first cousin whom she disliked from the first and who forced his attentions on her. Granted a visa to come to Britain, as if the marriage were a bona fide one—the British authorities having turned a cowardly blind eye to the real nature of such marriages in order to avoid the charge of racial discrimination—he was violent toward her.
She had two children in quick succession, both of whom were so severely handicapped that they would be bedridden for the rest of their short lives and would require nursing 24 hours a day. (For fear of giving offense, the press almost never alludes to the extremely high rate of genetic illnesses among the offspring of consanguineous marriages.) Her husband, deciding that the blame for the illnesses was entirely hers, and not wishing to devote himself to looking after such useless creatures, left her, divorcing her after Islamic custom. Her family ostracized her, having concluded that a woman whose husband had left her must have been to blame and was the next thing to a whore. She threw herself off a cliff, but was saved by a ledge.
I’ve heard a hundred variations of her emblematic story. Here, for once, are instances of unadulterated female victimhood, yet the silence of the feminists is deafening. Where two pieties—feminism and multiculturalism—come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence.
Certainly such experiences have moderated the historicism I took to Afghanistan—the naive belief that monotheistic religions have but a single, “natural,” path of evolution, which they all eventually follow. By the time Christianity was Islam’s present age, I might once have thought, it had still undergone no Reformation, the absence of which is sometimes offered as an explanation for Islam’s intolerance and rigidity. Give it time, I would have said, and it will evolve, as Christianity has, to a private confession that acknowledges the legal supremacy of the secular state—at which point Islam will become one creed among many.
That Shakespeare’s words express the despair that oppressed Muslim girls feel in a British city in the twenty-first century with much greater force, short of poisoning themselves, than that with which they can themselves express it, that Shakespeare evokes so vividly their fathers’ sentiments as well (though condemning rather than endorsing them), suggests—does it not?—that such oppressive treatment of women is not historically unique to Islam, and that it is a stage that Muslims will leave behind. Islam will even outgrow its religious intolerance, as Christian Europe did so long ago, after centuries in which the Thirty Years’ War, for example, resulted in the death of a third of Germany’s population, or when Philip II of Spain averred, “I would rather sacrifice the lives of a hundred thousand people than cease my persecution of heretics.”
My historicist optimism has waned. After all, I soon enough learned that the Shah’s revolution from above was reversible—at least in the short term, that is to say the term in which we all live, and certainly long enough to ruin the only lives that contemporary Iranians have. Moreover, even if there were no relevant differences between Christianity and Islam as doctrines and civilizations in their ability to accommodate modernity, a vital difference in the historical situations of the two religions also tempers my historicist optimism. Devout Muslims can see (as Luther, Calvin, and others could not) the long-term consequences of the Reformation and its consequent secularism: a marginalization of the Word of God, except as an increasingly distant cultural echo—as the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of the once full “Sea of faith,” in Matthew Arnold’s precisely diagnostic words.
And there is enough truth in the devout Muslim’s criticism of the less attractive aspects of Western secular culture to lend plausibility to his call for a return to purity as the answer to the Muslim world’s woes. He sees in the West’s freedom nothing but promiscuity and license, which is certainly there; but he does not see in freedom, especially freedom of inquiry, a spiritual virtue as well as an ultimate source of strength. This narrow, beleaguered consciousness no doubt accounts for the strand of reactionary revolt in contemporary Islam. The devout Muslim fears, and not without good reason, that to give an inch is sooner or later to concede the whole territory.
This fear must be all the more acute among the large and growing Muslim population in cities like mine. Except for a small, highly educated middle class, who live de facto as if Islam were a private religious confession like any other in the West, the Muslims congregate in neighborhoods that they have made their own, where the life of the Punjab continues amid the architecture of the Industrial Revolution. The halal butcher’s corner shop rubs shoulders with the terra-cotta municipal library, built by the Victorian city fathers to improve the cultural level of a largely vanished industrial working class.
The Muslim immigrants to these areas were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously. They neither anticipated, nor wanted, the inevitable cultural tensions of translocation, and they certainly never suspected that in the long run they could not maintain their culture and their religion intact. The older generation is only now realizing that even outward conformity to traditional codes of dress and behavior by the young is no longer a guarantee of inner acceptance (a perception that makes their vigilantism all the more pronounced and desperate). Recently I stood at the taxi stand outside my hospital, beside two young women in full black costume, with only a slit for the eyes. One said to the other, “Give us a light for a fag, love; I’m gasping.” Release the social pressure on the girls, and they would abandon their costume in an instant.
Anyone who lives in a city like mine and interests himself in the fate of the world cannot help wondering whether, deeper than this immediate cultural desperation, there is anything intrinsic to Islam—beyond the devout Muslim’s instinctive understanding that secularization, once it starts, is like an unstoppable chain reaction—that renders it unable to adapt itself comfortably to the modern world. Is there an essential element that condemns the Dar al-Islam to permanent backwardness with regard to the Dar al-Harb, a backwardness that is felt as a deep humiliation, and is exemplified, though not proved, by the fact that the whole of the Arab world, minus its oil, matters less to the rest of the world economically than the Nokia telephone company of Finland?
I think the answer is yes, and that the problem begins with Islam’s failure to make a distinction between church and state. Unlike Christianity, which had to spend its first centuries developing institutions clandestinely and so from the outset clearly had to separate church from state, Islam was from its inception both church and state, one and indivisible, with no possible distinction between temporal and religious authority. Muhammad’s power was seamlessly spiritual and secular (although the latter grew ultimately out of the former), and he bequeathed this model to his followers. Since he was, by Islamic definition, the last prophet of God upon earth, his was a political model whose perfection could not be challenged or questioned without the total abandonment of the pretensions of the entire religion.
But his model left Islam with two intractable problems. One was political. Muhammad unfortunately bequeathed no institutional arrangements by which his successors in the role of omnicompetent ruler could be chosen (and, of course, a schism occurred immediately after the Prophet’s death, with some—today’s Sunnites—following his father-in-law, and some—today’s Shi’ites—his son-in-law). Compounding this difficulty, the legitimacy of temporal power could always be challenged by those who, citing Muhammad’s spiritual role, claimed greater religious purity or authority; the fanatic in Islam is always at a moral advantage vis-à-vis the moderate. Moreover, Islam—in which the mosque is a meetinghouse, not an institutional church—has no established, anointed ecclesiastical hierarchy to decide such claims authoritatively. With political power constantly liable to challenge from the pious, or the allegedly pious, tyranny becomes the only guarantor of stability, and assassination the only means of reform. Hence the Saudi time bomb: sooner or later, religious revolt will depose a dynasty founded upon its supposed piety but long since corrupted by the ways of the world.
The second problem is intellectual. In the West, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment, acting upon the space that had always existed, at least potentially, in Christianity between church and state, liberated individual men to think for themselves, and thus set in motion an unprecedented and still unstoppable material advancement. Islam, with no separate, secular sphere where inquiry could flourish free from the claims of religion, if only for technical purposes, was hopelessly left behind: as, several centuries later, it still is.
The indivisibility of any aspect of life from any other in Islam is a source of strength, but also of fragility and weakness, for individuals as well as for polities. Where all conduct, all custom, has a religious sanction and justification, any change is a threat to the whole system of belief. Certainty that their way of life is the right one thus coexists with fear that the whole edifice—intellectual and political—will come tumbling down if it is tampered with in any way. Intransigence is a defense against doubt and makes living on terms of true equality with others who do not share the creed impossible.
Not coincidentally, the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death: apostates are regarded as far worse than infidels, and punished far more rigorously. In every Islamic society, and indeed among Britain’s Muslim immigrants, there are people who take this idea quite literally, as their rage against Salman Rushdie testified.
The Islamic doctrine of apostasy is hardly favorable to free inquiry or frank discussion, to say the least, and surely it explains why no Muslim, or former Muslim, in an Islamic society would dare to suggest that the Qu’ran was not divinely dictated through the mouth of the Prophet but rather was a compilation of a charismatic man’s words made many years after his death, and incorporating, with no very great originality, Judaic, Christian, and Zoroastrian elements. In my experience, devout Muslims expect and demand a freedom to criticize, often with perspicacity, the doctrines and customs of others, while demanding an exaggerated degree of respect and freedom from criticism for their own doctrines and customs. I recall, for example, staying with a Pakistani Muslim in East Africa, a very decent and devout man, who nevertheless spent several evenings with me deriding the absurdities of Christianity: the paradoxes of the Trinity, the impossibility of Resurrection, and so forth. Though no Christian myself, had I replied in kind, alluding to the pagan absurdities of the pilgrimage to Mecca, or to the gross, ignorant, and primitive superstitions of the Prophet with regard to jinn, I doubt that our friendship would have lasted long.
The unassailable status of the Qu’ran in Islamic education, thought, and society is ultimately Islam’s greatest disadvantage in the modern world. Such unassailability does not debar a society from great artistic achievement or charms of its own: great and marvelous civilizations have flourished without the slightest intellectual freedom. I myself prefer a souk to a supermarket any day, as a more human, if less economically efficient, institution. But until Muslims (or former Muslims, as they would then be) are free in their own countries to denounce the Qu’ran as an inferior hodgepodge of contradictory injunctions, without intellectual unity (whether it is so or not)—until they are free to say with Carlyle that the Qu’ran is “a wearisome confused jumble” with “endless iterations, longwindedness, entanglement”—until they are free to remake and modernize the Qu’ran by creative interpretation, they will have to reconcile themselves to being, if not helots, at least in the rearguard of humanity, as far as power and technical advance are concerned.
A piece of pulp fiction by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in 1898, when followers of the charismatic fundamentalist leader Muhammad al-Mahdi tried to establish a theocracy in Sudan by revolting against Anglo-Egyptian control, makes precisely this point and captures the contradiction at the heart of contemporary Islam. Called The Tragedy of the Korosko, the book is the story of a small tourist party to Upper Egypt, who are kidnapped and held to ransom by some Mahdists, and then rescued by the Egyptian Camel Corps. (I hesitate, as a Francophile, to point out to American readers that there is a French character in the book, who, until he is himself captured by the Mahdists, believes that they are but a figment of the British imagination, to give perfidious Albion a pretext to interfere in Sudanese affairs.) A mullah among the Mahdists who capture the tourists attempts to convert the Europeans and Americans to Islam, deriding as unimportant and insignificant their technically superior civilization: “ ‘As to the [scientific] learning of which you speak . . . ’ said the Moolah . . . ‘I have myself studied at the University of Al Azhar at Cairo, and I know that to which you allude. But the learning of the faithful is not as the learning of the unbeliever, and it is not fitting that we pry too deeply into the ways of Allah. Some stars have tails . . . and some have not; but what does it profit us to know which are which? For God made them all, and they are very safe in His hands. Therefore . . . be not puffed up by the foolish learning of the West, and understand that there is only one wisdom, which consists in following the will of Allah as His chosen prophet has laid it down for us in this book.’ ”
This is by no means a despicable argument. One of the reasons that we can appreciate the art and literature of the past, and sometimes of the very distant past, is that the fundamental conditions of human existence remain the same, however much we advance in the technical sense: I have myself argued in these pages that human self-understanding, except in purely technical matters, reached its apogee with Shakespeare. In a sense, the mullah is right.
But if we made a fetish of Shakespeare (much richer and more profound than the Qu’ran, in my view), if we made him the sole object of our study and the sole guide of our lives, we would soon enough fall into backwardness and stagnation. And the problem is that so many Muslims want both stagnation and power: they want a return to the perfection of the seventh century and to dominate the twenty-first, as they believe is the birthright of their doctrine, the last testament of God to man. If they were content to exist in a seventh-century backwater, secure in a quietist philosophy, there would be no problem for them or us; their problem, and ours, is that they want the power that free inquiry confers, without either the free inquiry or the philosophy and institutions that guarantee that free inquiry. They are faced with a dilemma: either they abandon their cherished religion, or they remain forever in the rear of human technical advance. Neither alternative is very appealing; and the tension between their desire for power and success in the modern world on the one hand, and their desire not to abandon their religion on the other, is resolvable for some only by exploding themselves as bombs.
People grow angry when faced with an intractable dilemma; they lash out. Whenever I have described in print the cruelties my young Muslim patients endure, I receive angry replies: I am either denounced outright as a liar, or the writer acknowledges that such cruelties take place but are attributable to a local culture, in this case Punjabi, not to Islam, and that I am ignorant not to know it.
But Punjabi Sikhs also arrange marriages: they do not, however, force consanguineous marriages of the kind that take place from Madras to Morocco. Moreover—and not, I believe, coincidentally—Sikh immigrants from the Punjab, of no higher original social status than their Muslim confrères from the same provinces, integrate far better into the local society once they have immigrated. Precisely because their religion is a more modest one, with fewer universalist pretensions, they find the duality of their new identity more easily navigable. On the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, for example, the Sikh temples were festooned with perfectly genuine protestations of congratulations and loyalty. No such protestations on the part of Muslims would be thinkable.
But the anger of Muslims, their demand that their sensibilities should be accorded a more than normal respect, is a sign not of the strength but of the weakness—or rather, the brittleness—of Islam in the modern world, the desperation its adherents feel that it could so easily fall to pieces. The control that Islam has over its populations in an era of globalization reminds me of the hold that the Ceausescus appeared to have over the Rumanians: an absolute hold, until Ceausescu appeared one day on the balcony and was jeered by the crowd that had lost its fear. The game was over, as far as Ceausescu was concerned, even if there had been no preexisting conspiracy to oust him.
One sign of the increasing weakness of Islam’s hold over its nominal adherents in Britain—of which militancy is itself but another sign—is the throng of young Muslim men in prison. They will soon overtake the young men of Jamaican origin in their numbers and in the extent of their criminality. By contrast, young Sikhs and Hindus are almost completely absent from prison, so racism is not the explanation for such Muslim overrepresentation.
Confounding expectations, these prisoners display no interest in Islam whatsoever; they are entirely secularized. True, they still adhere to Muslim marriage customs, but only for the obvious personal advantage of having a domestic slave at home. Many of them also dot the city with their concubines—sluttish white working-class girls or exploitable young Muslims who have fled forced marriages and do not know that their young men are married. This is not religion, but having one’s cake and eating it.
The young Muslim men in prison do not pray; they do not demand halal meat. They do not read the Qu’ran. They do not ask to see the visiting imam. They wear no visible signs of piety: their main badge of allegiance is a gold front tooth, which proclaims them members of the city’s criminal subculture—a badge (of honor, they think) that they share with young Jamaicans, though their relations with the Jamaicans are otherwise fraught with hostility. The young Muslim men want wives at home to cook and clean for them, concubines elsewhere, and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. As for Muslim proselytism in the prison—and Muslim literature has been insinuated into nooks and crannies there far more thoroughly than any Christian literature—it is directed mainly at the Jamaican prisoners. It answers their need for an excuse to go straight, while not at the same time surrendering to the morality of a society they believe has wronged them deeply. Indeed, conversion to Islam is their revenge upon that society, for they sense that their newfound religion is fundamentally opposed to it. By conversion, therefore, they kill two birds with one stone.
But Islam has no improving or inhibiting effect upon the behavior of my city’s young Muslim men, who, in astonishing numbers, have taken to heroin, a habit almost unknown among their Sikh and Hindu contemporaries. The young Muslims not only take heroin but deal in it, and have adopted all the criminality attendant on the trade.
What I think these young Muslim prisoners demonstrate is that the rigidity of the traditional code by which their parents live, with its universalist pretensions and emphasis on outward conformity to them, is all or nothing; when it dissolves, it dissolves completely and leaves nothing in its place. The young Muslims then have little defense against the egotistical licentiousness they see about them and that they all too understandably take to be the summum bonum of Western life.
Observing this, of course, there are among Muslim youth a tiny minority who reject this absorption into the white lumpenproletariat and turn militant or fundamentalist. It is their perhaps natural, or at least understandable, reaction to the failure of our society, kowtowing to absurd and dishonest multiculturalist pieties, to induct them into the best of Western culture: into that spirit of free inquiry and personal freedom that has so transformed the life chances of every person in the world, whether he knows it or not.
Islam in the modern world is weak and brittle, not strong: that accounts for its so frequent shrillness. The Shah will, sooner or later, triumph over the Ayatollah in Iran, because human nature decrees it, though meanwhile millions of lives will have been ruined and impoverished. The Iranian refugees who have flooded into the West are fleeing Islam, not seeking to extend its dominion, as I know from speaking to many in my city. To be sure, fundamentalist Islam will be very dangerous for some time to come, and all of us, after all, live only in the short term; but ultimately the fate of the Church of England awaits it. Its melancholy, withdrawing roar may well (unlike that of the Church of England) be not just long but bloody, but withdraw it will. The fanatics and the bombers do not represent a resurgence of unreformed, fundamentalist Islam, but its death rattle.
Brigadier (Retd.) F.B. Ali fought in the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. Here he gives his account of the events that resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan and left behind a legacy of shame.
By F.B. Ali Monthly 'Newsline'
The Supplementary Report of the 1971 War Inquiry Commission (headed by Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman) has recently been published in the magazine India Today. There is little doubt that this is
a genuine document. It is unfortunate that, even though 30 years have passed, the Commission's report has not been made public in Pakistan, and we are forced to depend on foreign sources to learn of its contents in dribs and drabs.
Why this report has been buried so deep in secrecy is a simple question to answer: it is a scathing critique of the conduct of many leading politicians and senior military officers, and recommends that many of them be tried for their actions and failures which led to the shameful defeat and dismemberment of the country.
Since neither Z.A. Bhutto, who set up the Commission, nor any succeeding government was prepared to execute these recommendations, they were unwilling to make them public and then face the inevitable questions and public anger. In Bhutto's case, his complicity in the break-up of the country (which must have been clear in the Main Report of the Commission) was added reason to keep the report secret.
The devastating account in this Supplementary Report of the despicable actions of a large number of senior officers in East Pakistan in 1971 could create the false impression that these strictures apply to all officers in that theatre, even though the Commission has itself cautioned against this. Even among the senior officers there were outstanding exceptions.
Major General Shaukat Riza, one of the finest officers to serve in the Pakistan army, vehemently disagreed with both the military strategy adopted as well as the policy of excessive use of force against the civilian population. He was promptly removed from East Pakistan, as was Major General Khadim Hussain Raja later, for similar reasons. Many officers, such as Lt. Colonel (later Brigadier) Mansoorul Haq Malik, refused to participate in the violence against civilians and other unethical military conduct, even though there were very strong feelings of revenge among the troops because of atrocities committed by the Mukti Bahini.
Another erroneous impression that has persisted, and which the Commission report may reinforce, is that the Yahya regime was established and propped up by the Pakistan army. That is not the truth.
The Yahya regime was brought into power by a small group of generals and top civil servants. It stayed in power because of the strong tradition of discipline and obedience in the army. It further consolidated its position by promoting its own henchmen to senior positions while removing those who would not go along. Moreover, it ensured the loyalty of its henchmen by giving them full licence to indulge in corruption and moneymaking.
The rest of the officer corps watched with increasing disgust as the regime wallowed deeper and deeper in this filth while leading the country to disaster. It is either not well-known, or often forgotten, that it was the Pakistan army that removed the Yahya regime, as I shall relate further on. Major General M. Rahim Khan has reacted violently to the publication of the Hamoodur Rahman Report. He doth protest too much.
Surely the Commission did not invent the details of what they term his "shameful cowardice and undue regard for his personal safety"; these were based on the evidence of persons who witnessed these events first hand. In fact, General Rahim should be thankful the Commission did not investigate the murky episode in which he had himself flown out of Dhaka to Burma just before the surrender.
I find it amusing that General Rahim shifts all the blame on Z.A. Bhutto, while attempting to distance himself from him. General Rahim was part of the inner circle of the martial law regime. After the People's Party won the 1970 election in West Pakistan, General Rahim began to establish relations with Bhutto. I was there, I saw it. In fact, he engineered a reconciliation between the regime and Bhutto, and became the link between the two as they conspired to wreck the newly elected National Assembly, in which the Awami League had a majority.
General Rahim was also one of the main contributors to the plan to use military force to crush the popular uprising in East Pakistan that would inevitably follow the scuttling of the political process. It was because of his special equation with Bhutto that the latter appointed General Rahim as Chief of the General Staff upon his return from Burma, and later on elevated him to the rank of Secretary-General, Ministry of Defence.
Major General Rao Farman Ali Khan has confirmed that the report published in India is genuine. In this report, the Commission has completely exonerated General Farman, and has even bestowed words of praise upon him.
In the interests of historical integrity, this picture needs to be balanced. General Farman was not in the inner circle of the Yahya clique, but he was a key member of the regime's Election Cell, which used extortion, intimidation, and bribery to ensure a victory for the Jamaat-i-Islami and other religious parties in the 1970 election. Huge sums of money were illegally raised and channelled to these parties.
When this attempt failed and the Awami League won in East Pakistan, General Farman initially supported the efforts of Lt. General Yaqub Ali Khan to arrange a peaceful political settlement. But when this policy was rejected by Yahya Khan and General Yaqub was sacked, Farman saw which way the wind was blowing and trimmed his sails accordingly.
As he said to me at the time: "I was a dove, but when the doves lost out I became a hawk and showed them that I was the most hawkish of them all.” He also became one of the principal architects of the plan to use force in East Pakistan.
In his evidence before the Commission, General Farman sought to deflect any blame that might attach to General Tikka Khan for his role in East Pakistan. The Commission's report is itself remarkably silent on his role (Tikka was the army chief when this report was written). It is well-known that Tikka Khan was fully involved in the use of military force in East Pakistan.
Generals Rahim and Farman were contemporaries of mine; I knew them both. They were intelligent and capable officers. In their private lives they would be considered good and decent men. That is why they must be held to higher standards, and judged more harshly for their failures (propelled mainly by ravenous ambition) than Generals like A.A.K. Niazi.
The Commission's Supplementary Report deals mainly with the events in East Pakistan. The war in West Pakistan was covered in the Commission's Main Report, which is still suppressed. I participated in these operations, and appeared twice before the Commission. I have no doubt that in its Main Report the Commission paints an equally black picture of the conduct of the war in West Pakistan, and is as scathing in its condemnation of the regime and senior military commanders who lost large areas of the country and then cravenly accepted an ignominious ceasefire.
The details of the faulty strategy that were partly the cause of this debacle are no longer of general interest. But we must not forget the essence of what transpired; we must not let vested interests whitewash the dark truth or bury it. Nations that forget history are condemned to repeat it. My experience of the 1971 war is one window into the past as it really happened.
I commanded an artillery formation in the Sialkot-Narowal-Gujranwala sector, which was defended by 1 Corps under Lt. General Irshad Ahmad Khan.
Since I was simultaneously filling several other command positions, I was able to observe all that went on in this sector. The war was initiated by Pakistan on December 3, 1971 with a few very limited attacks. GHQ had given strict orders that nothing was to be done beyond this; all the requests of local commanders to be allowed to exploit the success of the initial attacks were firmly rejected. It appears that the Yahya regime started the war in the West just to put pressure on the international community to intervene and impose a ceasefire in East Pakistan.
This did not happen, and after a few days the Indians recovered from their initial disarray and began to push into our territory. There was total paralysis in the command on our side: GHQ gave no orders, while the field commanders were content to sit and wait for directions from above that never came.
Meanwhile, every day the enemy was advancing, every day we were giving up territory, every day we were steadily losing the war. I had about 14 or 15 regiments of artillery available to me, and I made the necessary plans and preparations to mass them against the enemy advance. From December 8 onwards, I tried every method I could, official and unofficial, formal and informal, to persuade my superiors and GHQ to use this great potential of firepower available to them, but in vain.
One day, in my capacity as Commander Artillery of Army Reserve North, I attended a meeting called by General Irshad, Commander 1 Corps, at his HQ in Gujranwala. After the dismal opening briefing about more areas lost the night before, I asked General Irshad why he wasn't doing anything about this continuing loss of territory.
He replied: "You are worried about this territory; according to the GHQ plan I can give up all the area north of the MRL canal.” (This was many times the area we had already lost!) I was so fed up that I said rather roughly: "If you are not going to use your reserve armoured brigade why don't you give it to us so that we can try to recover the lost territory?” For a few moments he was too shocked to reply; then he burst out: "Don't forget that after the war you will come back under my command and I will write your ACR (Annual Confidential Report)."
This general spent less time commanding his corps than he did on improving the security of his HQ and living quarters. The War Inquiry Commission recommended that Lt. Gen. Irshad Ahmad Khan should be court-martialled for surrendering nearly 500 villages to the enemy without a fight.
The territory we lost in West Pakistan was given up without a fight because the army was not allowed to fight by its commanders. In the few places where we did fight, the younger officers and soldiers displayed extraordinary valour and self-sacrifice. But the bulk of the army was kept out of battle. Halfway through the war it became a common place saying among officers: if you want to fight this war, forget about the generals and do it yourself.
On December 17, after Yahya Khan announced the acceptance of the ceasefire, I was quite certain, as were most other people, that he and his government would accept responsibility for the debacle and announce that they were quitting. That evening I handed in my resignation from the army, in acknowledgment of my responsibility (shared by all other senior officers) for having silently acquiesced in the takeover and maintenance of power by these corrupt, self-seeking generals who had brought the country to this sorry state.
Next day, on December18, I was stunned to learn that Yahya Khan had no intention of leaving; instead, he announced that he was going to promulgate a new constitution. Meanwhile, angry public demonstrations demanding that the regime should quit had erupted all over the country.
There was a real danger that Yahya Khan might use troops to quell the public outcry, which would have imposed an unbearable strain on the discipline of the army, itself angry and upset over what had happened.
I became convinced that the regime had to be clearly told that it no longer had the support of the army and must go. I tried to persuade my division commander, Major General M.I. Karim, to send such a message to the government through GHQ, but, although he appeared to share my views, he hesitated to take such a step. Finally, on December 19, I could wait no longer, and took over effective command of the division from General Karim. He tacitly accepted this, and gave me valuable support throughout the succeeding events.
In this action, I also had the support of some other senior officers who felt as I did. Our position was that the regime should quit and hand over power to the elected representatives of the people, and that all those incompetent and corrupt commanders who had led us into defeat should be sacked. In practical terms, this meant handing over power to Z.A. Bhutto and his People's Party, who had won the 1970 election in West Pakistan. Even though I was by no means a fan of Mr. Bhutto's, I believed that their elected status gave them the right to govern, and obtain the allegiance of
the armed forces.
Colonels Aleem Afridi and Javed Iqbal went to Rawalpindi with a message from us for Yahya Khan: he should announce by 8 p.m. that evening his readiness to hand over power to the elected representatives of the people. In addition, all those generals who had led the army into this disaster should also quit. In case such an announcement was not made by 8 p.m. then we could not guarantee control of the situation, and any resulting consequences.
The two officers met with General Gul Hassan, Chief of the General Staff, and asked him to convey this message to Yahya Khan. Gul Hassan went to General Hamid, the Chief of Staff, who said he would arrange for a meeting with the President at 7 p.m. General Hamid then went into a flurry of activity. He called several army commanders to see if they could help to restore the situation, but they all expressed inability to do anything. Major General A.O. Mitha, another stalwart of the regime, tried to get some SSG (commando) troops for action against our divisional HQ, but was unable to obtain any.
The failure of these efforts, and the obvious absence of any support in the army, left the Yahya clique with no option. Shortly before 8 p.m., the broadcast was made that Yahya Khan had decided to hand over power to the elected representatives of the people.
After this announcement General Gul Hassan and his friend, Air Marshal Rahim Khan, the air force chief, in consultation with G.M. Khar, a PPP leader, arranged for Z.A. Bhutto's return from Rome, where he was sitting out the crisis, apparently because he was not sure about his personal safety if he came back. When Bhutto arrived on the 20th, Gul Hassan and Rahim told him that the military was behind them, and it was they who had removed the Yahya regime. That night Mr. Bhutto made a broadcast to the nation, in which he announced the retirement of all the generals in Yahya Khan's inner clique, saying that he was doing this "in accord with the sentiments of the armed forces and the younger officers.” He also made Lt. General Gul Hassan the army chief, and confirmed Rahim Khan as the air force chief, though they did not last long when they proved insufficiently pliable.
Bhutto made no attempt to purge the armed forces of the rotten layer at the top, even though he must have known how discredited these officers were in their own services, especially with the War Inquiry Commission hearing evidence of their misdeeds, which were becoming generally known. It suited him to have weak commanders who depended on him for their positions and lacked the respect and support of those under them. But he readily acquiesced in Gul Hassan's removal of a few remaining upright and competent generals, namely, Major Generals Shaukat Riza, Ihsanul Haq Malik
and Khadim Hussain Raja.
Then, in August 1972, Bhutto retired me and five other officers who had been the principals in the removal of the Yahya regime. He publicly accused us of having engaged in a conspiracy to prevent the elected representatives of the people from coming into power in December 1971!
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had a glorious opportunity when he became President. The people of Pakistan were shaken to the roots of their national psyche. They looked longingly for a leader to guide them back to the right path; they were prepared to make a new beginning as a cohesive people ready to work together again to achieve the vision that had created their homeland 25 years ago. All they needed was a leader who felt the same pain and yearned for the same goal.
But at this great crossroads in history, the man of the hour was found pitifully wanting. His lack of vision, meanness of spirit, and pettiness of mind, all led him to see this historic moment as just an opportunity to grab personal power. Even the use of this power was affected by his limitations: witness, as one of his first acts as President, the arrest and public humiliation of persons against whom he harboured personal grudges.
When it became clear that Bhutto was not going to remove the incompetent and corrupt officers still remaining in the senior ranks of the military, a wave of anger spread among the younger officers of the army and the air force. Many of them began to talk about changing the government if this was the only way of purging the armed forces. This talk became serious among the brightest and bravest of them, who felt most deeply the shame inflicted upon the armed forces and the country in 1971, and for whom the profession of arms was an honourable calling in the service of the nation.
The moving spirit in the army was Major Farouk Adam Khan, while in the air force it was Squadron Leader Ghous. They got in touch with Colonel Aleem Afridi, who contacted me. The gnawing sense of responsibility that I felt for the existing situation would not let me stand aside; I decided to explore whether I could undo what I had done, even though I knew the risks and difficulties that the undertaking involved.
Matters had not gone beyond the serious discussion stage when a traitor in our midst, Lt. Colonel Tariq Rafi, betrayed us to the generals. Early in 1973, a large number of army and air force officers were arrested in a particularly brutal fashion, confined under very harsh conditions, and tried by courts martial at Attock and Badaber. Bhutto saw this as an excellent opportunity to teach a lasting lesson to anyone else in the armed forces who might think of acting against him.
In spite of a superb defence led by Mr. Manzur Qadir, the outcome was a foregone conclusion: all the accused were convicted and many of them were given long prison entences, including life imprisonment for Aleem Afridi and me. Manzur Qadir was ill but continued to defend us, even though we could barely pay enough to cover his expenses (his normal fees were totally beyond our means), and lived for long periods in primitive conditions in the Attock rest house, as did his colleagues, Ijaz Hussain Batalvi, Aitzaz Ahsan and Wasim Sajjad.
The emotions that drove these young officers to contemplate such a drastic step, involving grave risks, and then stoically suffer such harsh consequences, were poignantly expressed by Major Saeed Akhtar Malik in his address to the Attock court martial trying him for his life.
"When the war became imminent, I took leave from the PMA and joined my unit, with thanks to the CO who requisitioned my services. The next day the war started. But instead of glory, I found only disillusionment. The truth was that we were a defeated army even before a shot was fired. This was a very bitter truth. With each corpse that I saw, my revulsion increased for the men who had signed the death warrants of so many very fine men. Yes, fine men, but poor soldiers, who were never given the chance to fight back, because they were not trained to fight back. When they should have been training for war, they were performing the role of labourers, farmers or herdsmen, anything but the role of soldiers. This was not 'shahadat.' This was cold-blooded murder."
Who was responsible for this? I was responsible! But more than me someone else was responsible. People who get paid more than me were responsible. What were some of these men, these callous, inhuman degenerates, doing when their only job was to prepare this army for war?
Were these men not grabbing lands and building houses? Did it not appear in foreign magazines that some of them were pimping for their bloated grandmaster? Yes, generals, wearing that uniform (he pointed at the court's president) pimping and whore-mongering!"
High on the roll of honour of those great patriots who suffered and sacrificed for this country must be inscribed the names of Majors Saeed Akhtar Malik, Farouk Adam Khan, Asaf Shafi, Ishtiaq Asif, Farooq Nawaz Janjua, Nadir Parvez, Munir Rafiq, Iftikhar Adam, Sajjad Akbar, Tariq Parvez, Ayyaz Ahmed Sipra, and Nasrullah Khan; Captains Sarwar Mahmood Azhar and Naveed Rasul Mirza; Lt. Colonels Muzaffar Hamdani, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Afzal Mirza; Colonel Aleem Afridi; Brigadiers Wajid Ali Shah and Ateeq Ahmed; Squadron Leader Ghous, Wing Commander Hashmi and Group Captain Sikandar Masood.
To the reader whose eyes have just skipped over the last paragraph I would say: Pause a moment. These are brave men who fought for you and your children and your country, not only against the foreign enemy but also against the dark night of tyranny that was descending over this land. Even though they did not succeed, at least they tried, when so many others just sat and watched, or wrung their hands, or joined the victors. The least you can do is pay them the tribute of reading their names. Equal honour is due to our families, especially those whose husbands and fathers spent long years in prison. Effectively reduced to widows and orphans, in a hostile environment created by a powerful government that branded their men as traitors, they refused to be cowed down or give up. They waged constant battle in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion, all the while sustaining us with steadfast support. Without it many of us could not have survived.
I was instrumental in bringing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto into power in December 1971. This had an immediate effect upon the career of one Brigadier Zia-ul- Haq, who had recently returned from Jordan (where he had been a military adviser) under something of a cloud for his involvement in the crushing of the PLO by King Hussein. Bhutto made Zia's friend and patron, Gul Hassan, the army chief, who promptly promoted Zia to the rank of Major General.
As a junior general, Zia was picked to be president of the Attock court martial. Bhutto took a strong personal interest in the progress of the Attock trial and required Zia to provide him with regular briefings; these private sessions gave Zia the opportunity to convince Bhutto of his personal loyalty. Bhutto wanted very much to have a few of the Attock accused sentenced to death. Zia assured him that he could manage to do this in my case and Aleem Afridi's. So sure were they of this that the gallows in Campbellpur Jail was prepared, and we were both moved next to the jail so that as soon as the court passed the sentence it could be immediately carried out. However, to accomplish this, Zia needed the votes of some of the younger officers on the court, but they did not agree.
Having failed to get me hanged, Bhutto continued to pursue me with a vengeance. When he learnt that 'life imprisonment' meant, in practice, 14 years behind bars,he had the rules changed so that such court-martial sentences really meant imprisonment for life. As required by prison regulations, all the Attock case prisoners were moved to jails near their homes except me.
When my wife questioned this, she was told that all decisions in my case were made by Bhutto. She then tried through Nusrat Bhutto and others close to him, but to no avail. So I spent about 4 1/2 years in solitary confinement far away from home. Finally, after Zia-ul-Haq dethroned Bhutto, I was moved to Kot Lakhpat Jail. Shortly thereafter, Bhutto arrived there as my neighbour, housed barely a 100 yards away. We were both in solitary confinement, but he was in a death row cell while I was in an A-class suite.
After the Attock trial, Zia assiduously built upon the foundation he had laid there to convince Bhutto of his fealty. When the time came, Bhutto picked him to be the next army chief, even though he was the junior-most of the five contenders. Not one of these other generals, any one of whom Bhutto could have picked instead of Zia, possessed the ruthlessness required to have him hanged later on. But it was Zia whom he picked. But for his early promotion in 1972 and the resulting opportunity provided by the Attock court martial to establish a personal equation with Bhutto, Zia-ul-Haq would never have become army chief. If he had not been so chosen, Zia would not have become President of Pakistan. Perhaps then he would not have been riding in that plane over the Bahawalpur desert.
I sit in a faraway land, and it is but rarely that I view the events of the past unfold as if on a dim stage. Sometimes the side curtains move, and it seems to me that in the shadows there, I catch a glimpse of the grinning face of History's Black Jester.
------------------------------------------------------- Following the 1971 war, Brigadier Furrukh B. Ali was retired by Bhutto in 1972 and spent five years in prison after the Attock conspiracy trial. He moved to Canada in 1979 and worked in the civil service there. Married with two children, F.B. Ali now leads a retired life in Toronto.
Not since Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon has the world been captivated by a marvel of science, engineering and the human potential.
Sunday night, the hush that had descended across the globe erupted with cheers of jubilation as engineer, Allen Chen, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced: “Touchdown confirmed ... we’re safe on Mars.” Across the United States and Canada, people met at homes and cafes to view the countdown to one of the most expensive scientific endeavours of the human race.
But on the other side of the planet, in Pakistan, millions of people were celebrating another scientific “breakthrough.” Pakistani engineer Agha Waqar Ahmad claimed he had invented a “water kit” that would enable automobiles to dispense with gasoline and instead run on plain water. His story was straight from the medieval annals of alchemists attempting to turn metal into gold.
While American engineers had to rely on the evidence of images sent back from Mars to confirm and validate their accomplishment, the Pakistani engineer had no such problem. His invention was presented on live TV with news anchors taking turns to drive the “water car” and marvel at this “invention.” Politicians jumped on the bandwagon with the federal cabinet meeting three times in Islamabad to discuss how to mass-produce this manna from heaven that came during the holy month of Ramadan.
Even Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist, the infamous Dr. A. Q. Khan, chipped in with his stamp of approval. He said: “I have investigated the matter and there is no fraud involved”.
It took Pakistan’s MIT-educated physicist Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy, to burst the bubble. In dismissing the water car as a joke, he wrote the inventor “had exposed just how far Pakistan has fallen into the pit of ignorance and self-delusion.” Hoodbhoy concluded:
“our leaders are lost in the dark, fumbling desperately for a miracle; our media is chasing spectacle, not truth; and our great scientists care more about being important than about evidence. … it is easier to believe the world is run by magic and conspiracies, to wish and wait for Aladdin’s magic lamp.”
Which brings us to the debate about culture and progress triggered by U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, and his comments comparing the economies of Israel and Palestine.
Some have accused Romney of being a racist, but the facts speak otherwise.
In 2002, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released a scathing report written by distinguished Arab intellectuals who slammed Arab countries for oppressing women, subjugating citizens, and failing to provide adequate education. The report said the Arab world was stuck in Dark Ages.
To be fair, there is no such thing as a distinct Jewish culture or a designated Arab or Muslim culture. The culture of Jews who spit on Christian monks in Jerusalem is not the same as the culture of the urban Jew of Haifa who heads a NASDAQ company.
Similarly the culture of a Palestinian Arab academic such as Prof Rashid Khalidi is not the same as the culture of Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mishal. Wall Street Journal columnist Richard Landes, who came to Romney’s defence, admits “Palestinian culture compares favourably with that of other Arabs. Palestinians have higher education, a strong work ethic and successful entrepreneurs.”
Somewhere in between, lies the truth.
But the culture that believes in Aladdin’s lamp and water cars is not equal to the culture that lands Curiosity on the planet Mars.
"Lost in this is the question of the Palestinians. When will they see their independent state and live as free citizens like the rest of us? From East Timor to Eritrea; Bosnia to Bangladesh, countries have emerged from occupation, so why not Palestine? It seems Iran and its Islamist puppets are the last people who wish to see an Independent Palestine. For if that ever happens, how will these anti-Semites satiate their hatred of the Jew?"
August 12, 2012
Hate fest shameful
Decision to allow anti-Israel Al-Quds rally at Queen's Park all wrong
Did you know there are Canadians among us who are inspired by a mass-murderer?
Canadians who take their cue not from our constitution or the values we have developed over the past 400 years of western civilization, but from the words of a hate-monger whose sinister image to this day instils fear and casts a shadow of misery wherever his tentacles reach.
Indeed, there are such Canadians, and on Aug. 18 they’ll defile the lawns of the Ontario Legislature to rally to the call of Ayatollah Khomeini for the destruction of the State of Israel — the observance of “Al-Quds Day.”
Khomeini first introduced Al Quds Day rallies in Iran in 1979, ostensibly to show solidarity with the rights of Palestinians.
However, the real agenda was to undermine and sabotage the Camp David Accords signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on Sept. 17, 1978.
Khomeini’s message was not one of peace and reconciliation. He was not fighting for the right of the Palestinians for a state of their own, at peace with Israel. In fact, he declared: “We must all rise, destroy Israel and replace it with the heroic Palestinian nation.”
Palestine merely became the fig leaf behind which Khomeini and his fellow Islamists — ranging from Shia Hezbollah to the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood — camouflaged their deep-seated Jewish hatred.
This is why most of the people who attend these rallies are not Palestinian or Iranians, but shia Pakistanis, radical backers of the Muslim Brotherhood, pro- Hezbollah Lebanese and a scattering of left-wing useful idiots.
Last year when this motley crew of Khomeini cheerleaders descended on Queen’s Park, they were led by a lifetime backer of the Iranian Islamic regime and a fan of Osama bin Laden, Zafar Bangash.
Mocking U.S. President Barack Obama as “that black man in the White House” and Israel as a “parasitical state,” Bangash declared amid cheers of Allah O Akbar:
“Insha’Allah I see the day when we the Muslims will march on Palestine and liberate Palestine for all the people of the world … Under Islamic Law they will all be living as equal citizens.”
Equal citizens? Tell that to the Christians of Egypt and Hindus of Pakistan; the Kurds of Turkey and the Baloch of Iran.
Another speaker belched out this conspiracy of the Jews:
“Wherever you see injustice happening, understand that there is a 1%, 2% or 100% involvement of the ‘Zionist Regime’. The same Zionist regime that sucks the blood, the resources that belong to the people all across the world.”
These words are vintage hatred with barely concealed threats to eradicate the state of Israel from the map of the world. Seeped in anti-Semitism, such language had not accorded respect in the West after the 1940s, until now.
Dennis Clark, the Sergeant-at-Arms at Queen’s Park, has given his blessing to this hate fest to continue in the tradition of last year, despite a year- long protest by human rights organizations.
A shameful decision that speaks of the lack of a spine among so many in positions of power, who when confronted with Islamist rhetoric simply succumb. The fear of being labelled as racist trumps all other concerns.
Lost in this is the question of the Palestinians. When will they see their independent state and live as free citizens like the rest of us? From East Timor to Eritrea; Bosnia to Bangladesh, countries have emerged from occupation, so why not Palestine?
It seems Iran and its Islamist puppets are the last people who wish to see an Independent Palestine. For if that ever happens, how will these anti-Semites satiate their hatred of the Jew?
"Today, the USSR is dead, but Pakistan is alive and has become America’s demon; one that successive U.S. administrations cannot put back into the bottle. My next book, 'Pakistan: The Demon America Created' dwells in detail the tragic division of India and the monster of Islamism that morphed out of the Cold War and now haunts and hunts its own maker."
August is a month that brings both joy and grief to the 1.3 billion people of the Indian subcontinent. Joy, as we celebrate the end of nearly 200 years of British colonial rule in 1947, and sorrow as we remember the one million who were slaughtered unnecessarily in a genocidal frenzy of religious hatred.
Punjab, my ancestral homeland, was sliced in two by the departing British to create the new state of Pakistan. In a few short months, the entire population of Punjab’s indigenous Sikhs and Hindus in Pakistan was either slaughtered or driven out by raging mobs of Muslim fanatics. On the other side of the border, there was more bloodshed.
The question often asked is, who penned the partition of India? Who was responsible for carving out Pakistan, a country that seems to have an insatiable appetite for bloodshed, and that has been responsible for, or associated with, more acts of jihadi terrorism then any other country on earth?
From Khalid Sheikh Mohammad’s 9/11 plans to the recent recruitment of jihadis in Burma; from the Toronto 18 to the London 7/7 bombings, fingerprints of Pakistan-based jihadi groups and ideologies are ubiquitous.
Conventional wisdom and traditional scholarship dictates, Pakistan came about as a result of Muslim grievances and fear of a Hindu-majority rule in post British India. Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the All India Muslim League are given credit for tapping into this sense of victimhood that still drives much of Islamist anger around the world.
However, there is more to it than meets the eye.
On May 5, 1945, the very day Germany surrendered, Prime Minister Churchill ordered an appraisal of “the long-term policy required to safeguard the strategic interests of the British Empire in India and the Indian Ocean.” Two weeks later Churchill received the top-secret report that, among other proposals, mentioned the necessity of British presence in Northwest India (today’s Pakistan) “from which British air power could threaten Soviet military installations.”
When this was brought to the attention of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister and the Congress, they made it clear they would not accept British bases on Indian soil. On the other hand, Muslim League leader Jinnah was amenable to such an idea.
Two months later, Churchill was shockingly defeated by the Labour Party in the election, leaving the task of creating Pakistan for the sake of Western military strategic needs to the socialists.
By June 1947, the decision to amputate India was announced in London. It was left to British foreign secretary Ernst Bevin to explain to his party activists why London would seek to destroy what it had built over 100 years as the “Jewel of the British Crown.”
Defending the decision that would devastate the lives of millions for decades, Bevin told delegates at a Labour Party Conference that the division of India was necessary because it “would help to consolidate Britain in the Middle East.”
"Christians suffer daily in Muslim countries. Their lives are in constant peril because of radical Islam’s assault on beleaguered Christian communities. Attacks on Christian churches have become common. While all religious minorities are targeted in Muslim countries where radical Islam has taken root, Christians are particularly vulnerable because they are accused of allying themselves with the “crusader” West, particularly after 9/11."
TORONTO - In sharia-benighted Pakistan, an eleven-year-old Christian girl with Down’s Syndrome has recently been incarcerated for blasphemy.
Rimshah Masih allegedly burned pages of the Quran and other Islamic textbooks, including a Quran primer. The girl was found holding the charred pages. She was subsequently beaten by an angry Islamist rabble which, supported by the usual obscurantist mullahs and bigots, is demanding the severest penalty for this disabled girl.
Unfortunately, Rimshah is not the only Pakistani facing such charges. Asia Bibi, another Christian accused of blasphemy, has languished in prison since 2010. She is the unfortunate woman on death row for allegedly showing disrespect for the Prophet Mohammad.
Pakistanis collectively have shown little outrage at these travesties. In fact, the religious climate of the country has turned even educated Pakistanis into dogmatists who think that freedom of expression stops at religion. The media have reinforced this, especially popular talk shows and television dramas.
Concern from the international community has dwindled disturbingly, as Pakistani clerics await Asia Bibi’s hanging.
In both cases the charges appear unfounded. No one knows how Rimshah acquired pages of the Quran or the primer—or if the charred pages were indeed taken out of these books. And no one really knows what Asia Bibi actually said to the women who accused her of blasphemy.
Bibi, a mother of four, dared to touch the eating utensils of nearby Muslim women. When she merely expressed displeasure at segregated and elitist eating practices, she was accused of blasphemy. Since then, fanatics have harassed her family. Rimshah’s family has fled, as have hundreds of other residents of her Christian neighborhood.
Christians suffer daily in Muslim countries. Their lives are in constant peril because of radical Islam’s assault on beleaguered Christian communities.
Attacks on Christian churches have become common. While all religious minorities are targeted in Muslim countries where radical Islam has taken root, Christians are particularly vulnerable because they are accused of allying themselves with the “crusader” West, particularly after 9/11.
In yet another outrageous case, eleven nurses—including three Christians—were recently poisoned in a Karachi hospital for not fasting during Ramadan. Fortunately all are recovering. We now also hear reports of Samuel Yacoob, an eleven-year-old Christian boy, who was tortured and beaten to death in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Christians in Islamic countries are voiceless and suffer under an intolerable legal framework, with its archaic and reprehensible blasphemy laws. They also endure attacks on places of worship, economic hardship and workplace discrimination.
Muslims everywhere must protest blasphemy laws, demand freedom for Rimshah and Asia Bibi and offer protection for members of their religious community. Blasphemy laws in Pakistan must be repealed.
The international community can also help. France has taken up Rimshah’s cause. Canada must also put pressure on the Pakistani government to release these victims of religious bigotry.
The legal framework of Pakistan requires an overhaul. More fundamentally, the masses need to be educated to respect human rights and freedom of expression, even in religion. Only when its citizens can be persuaded that civic responsibility begins with tolerance will Pakistan step out of the dark ages and strive for the dignity all of its diverse people deserve.
Guess who’s coming to Canada? It’s none other than the prima donna of the world Islamist movement, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tariq Ramadan.
Ramadan, who was barred from entering the U.S. until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched her “appease the Islamists” diplomatic initiative, will be speaking in Edmonton this weekend as a guest of local mosques (and, believe it or not, CTV is a sponsor). Later, he flies to Montreal where the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Muslim Association of Canada will host him.
Ramadan is a charming guy, but behind his smile lies a man committed to the goals of the worldwide Islamic jihad as laid out by his mentor, Sheik Qaradawi, and his father, the Trotsky of world Islamism, Said Ramadan.
While the rest of us will join the labour movement in parades or relish the last days of summer around family and friends, the Islamists will congregate in Edmonton and Montreal to receive guidance from Tariq Ramadan. Just last year, he told an American Muslim audience their job in the North America was to colonize the continent:
“We (Muslims) should all be careful not to be colonized by something which is coming from this consumerist society … It should be us, with our understanding of Islam, our principles, colonizing positively the United States of America.”
If that weren’t enough, Ramadan hinted that his presence in America and that of Muslims was not accidental, but the result of divine intervention. He said, “By the way, we are not here by accident.”
In Edmonton, the group hosting Ramadan is a freshly minted organization that goes by the name “Proud Muslims.” Their claim the event is “non-religious” is highly suspect as its main backers are “all the mosques of Edmonton and Islamic Relief Canada.”
Islamic Relief is the same organization that sponsored the radical Indian preacher Zakir Naik to speak in Toronto in 2010. However, Naik was barred from entering Canada after news reports quoted him praising Osama bin Laden:
“If (bin Laden) is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him … If he is terrorizing the terrorists, if he is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist.”
His hosts in Montreal, the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), is unashamedly pro-Muslim Brotherhood and vows to work towards a “Revolution in Islamic Work in Canada.”
MAC makes no secret that it “adopts and strives to implement Islam, as embodied in the Qur’an, and the teachings of the Prophet … and as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Albanna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
While in Montreal, Ramadan intends to draw a parallel between the “Arab spring” that led the Muslim Brotherhood to power in many Arab countries and the “Maple spring” in Quebec, which refers to the students protesting tuition fees. It’s a dishonest attempt by Montreal Islamists to ride on the bandwagon of a popular secular student movement and appropriate it for their own agenda.
We can’t blame Ramadan for using our Labour Day weekend to propagate the Muslim Brotherhood credo of “destroying the West from within.” The blame lies with those who invite him to Canada. These Islamists must be held accountable, but they aren’t because Canada’s liberal intelligentsia will have nothing of that sort. It tries to bully us into silence, warning that any opposition to Islamism is nothing short of right-wing racism.
However, this lifetime leftist will not be silenced by Islamists or their allies.
"Salma Siddiqui, president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, has asked for an urgent meeting with the Pakistani High Commissioner in Ottawa. “I’ll let him know in no uncertain terms that if Rimsha is not released immediately, the MCC will lobby the Canadian government to suspend all aid to Islamabad and expel Pakistani diplomats from Canada immediately,” said Siddiqui."
Lamb to the slaughter
Christian child faces death penalty in Pakistan for ‘blasphemy’
How many more “kaafirs” have to die before the thirst of Pakistan’s Islamist jihadis is quenched? As you read this, a Christian girl, no more than 14 years of age, gifted with the pure innocence of Down’s Syndrome, stays locked up in a maximum security prison in Pakistan, charged with the offence of ‘blasphemy,’ facing a death penalty or a life sentence in prison, despite evidence she was framed.
This child’s name is Rimsha Masih, the daughter of a dirt-poor Christian family who until last month lived in a one-room house in Islamabad’s shantytown suburb of Mehrabad. Inhabitants of this township are mostly Christian families who work endless days as sweepers and janitors in Pakistan’s capital.
On August 16, as she did every other day, Rimsha was collecting waste paper when a Muslim neighbour stopped her, claiming she had burned pages of an Islamic textbook in a plastic bag, and that this amounted to an “insult to Islam.” Shortly after the accusation, a Muslim mob went to Rimsha’s home and beat the child and her mother before police took the girl into custody, charging her with blasphemy.
As outrage swept across the globe, France “urged the Pakistani authorities to release this young girl,” adding “the very existence of the crime of blasphemy infringes upon fundamental freedoms, namely the freedom of religion or belief, as well as the freedom of expression.” In the U.S., New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and five of his bipartisan colleagues, blasted the blasphemy law of Pakistan in a letter to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, demanding Rimsha be set free.
But in Pakistan, people wanted to burn the girl alive. The lawyer for the man who accused the girl of blasphemy told reporters, “This girl is guilty.” Then he warned, “If the state overrides the court, then God will get a person to do the job,” reminding everyone of the murder of two Pakistani politicians who had sought the release of another Christian woman rotting in prison on similar charges.
I am aware cynics will say this does not matter, but if we can get 10,000 to sign, we will then pressure various Pakistani embassies to report back at the backlash Islamabad will face from overseas citizens and their host countries.
For the last 30 years I have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims of the bloodthirsty Ayatollahs who run and rule the Islamic Republic of Iran.
A close friend is a Torontonian who has never met his youngest sister, born after he fled Iran through Pakistan’s Balochistan mountains, then to India, only to find refuge in Canada.
Another colleague, who today works for the Canadian Labour Congress, fled on foot over the Kurdish mountains, ducking bullets from pursuing hit squads of the Islamic regime known as Pasadran, or the “Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.”
A Tehran broadcaster tells me harrowing tales of how she escaped with two young boys to end up in Turkey.
At least one friend I know was so brutalized in the Islamic prisons of Iran, he committed suicide in Pakistan.
More than three million Iranians fled the rise of Islamism in their country. From Royalists to Marxists, trade unionists to artists, old and young — the regime shed them like an ogre spitting out seeds while devouring a juicy watermelon.
So when Ottawa decided to expel the representatives of the Ayatollahs from Canada, I thought most Iranian-Canadians would burst out in joy and celebrate the ultimate insult to their enemy.
I was wrong.
Some did rejoice, like the brave Homa Arjomand who led the fight against Sharia Law in Canada, but too many prominent Iranian-Canadians criticized Canada for taking on Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Even Iranian-Canadian broadcaster Jian Gomeshi questioned Ottawa’s decision.
Some have said they would not be able to go on family vacations while others suggested Prime Minister Stephen Harper had become a sidekick of Israel. Few voiced their opinions as Canadians; almost all spoke as if they were first and foremost Iranian.
"When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to calm Muslims by denouncing the video, she was unwittingly playing along with the ruse the radicals set up. The United States would have been better off focusing on the only outrage that was of legitimate interest to the American government: the lack of respect—shown by a complaisant Egyptian government and other Islamists—for U.S. diplomatic miss."
September 13, 2012
Manipulated Outrage and Misplaced Fury
Islamists stoke resentment of the West—and anger over the long decline of Muslim influence—to serve their own violent ends.
The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions this week—beginning in Egypt and Libya, and moving to Yemen and other Muslim countries—came under cover of riots against an obscure online video insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. But the mob violence and assaults should be seen for what they really are: an effort by Islamists to garner support and mobilize their base by exacerbating anti-Western sentiments.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to calm Muslims Thursday by denouncing the video, she was unwittingly playing along with the ruse the radicals set up. The United States would have been better off focusing on the only outrage that was of legitimate interest to the American government: the lack of respect—shown by a complaisant Egyptian government and other Islamists—for U.S. diplomatic missions.
Protests orchestrated on the pretext of slights and offenses against Islam have been part of Islamist strategy for decades. Iran's ayatollahs built an entire revolution around anti-Americanism. While the Iranian revolution was underway in 1979, Pakistan's Islamists whipped up crowds by spreading rumors that the Americans had forcibly occupied Islam's most sacred site, the Ka'aba or the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Pakistani protesters burned the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
Violent demonstrations in many parts of the Muslim world after the 1989 fatwa—or religious condemnation—of a novel by Salman Rushdie, or after the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, also did not represent spontaneous outrage. In each case, the insult to Islam or its prophet was first publicized by Islamists themselves so they could use it as justification for planned violence.
Once mourning over the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and others subsides, we will hear familiar arguments in the West. Some will rightly say that Islamist sensibilities cannot and should not lead to self-censorship here. Others will point out that freedom of expression should not be equated with a freedom to offend. They will say: Just as a non-Jew, out of respect for other religious beliefs, does not exercise his freedom to desecrate a Torah scroll, similar respect should be extended to Muslims and what they deem sacred.
As for affronts, the Western mainstream is, by and large, quite respectful toward Muslims, millions of whom have adopted Europe and North America as their home and enjoy all the freedoms the West has to offer, including the freedom to worship. Insignificant or unnoticed videos and publications would have no impact on anyone, anywhere, if the Islamists did not choose to publicize them for radical effect.But this debate, as thoughtful as it may be, is a distraction from what is really going on. It ignores the political intent of Islamists for whom every perceived affront to Islam is an opportunity to exploit a wedge issue for their own empowerment.
And insults, real or hyped, are not the problem. At the heart of Muslim street violence is the frustration of the world's Muslims over their steady decline for three centuries, a decline that has coincided with the rise and spread of the West's military, economic and intellectual prowess.
During the 800 years of Muslim ascendancy beginning in the eighth century—in Southern Europe, North Africa and much of Western Asia—Muslims did not riot to protest non-Muslim insults against Islam or its prophet. There is no historic record of random attacks against non-Muslim targets in retaliation for a non-Muslim insulting Prophet Muhammad, though there are many books derogatory toward Islam's prophet that were written in the era of Islam's great empires. Muslims under Turkey's Ottomans, for example, did not attack non-Muslim envoys (the medieval equivalent of today's embassies) or churches upon hearing of real or rumored European sacrilege against their religion.
Clearly, then, violent responses to perceived injury are not integral to Islam. A religion is what its followers make it, and Muslims opting for violence have chosen to paint their faith as one that is prone to anger. Frustration with their inability to succeed in the competition between nations also has led some Muslims to seek symbolic victories.
Yet the momentary triumph of burning another country's flag or setting on fire a Western business or embassy building is a poor but widespread substitute for global success that eludes the modern world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Violent protest represents the lower rung of the ladder of rage; terrorism is its higher form.
Islamists almost by definition have a vested interest in continuously fanning the flames of Muslim victimhood. For Islamists, wrath against the West is the basis for their claim to the support of Muslim masses, taking attention away from societal political and economic failures. For example, the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference account for one-fifth of the world's population but their combined gross domestic product is less than 7% of global output—a harsh reality for which Islamists offer no solution.
Even after recent developments that were labeled the Arab Spring, few Muslim-majority countries either fulfill—or look likely to—the criteria for freedom set by the independent group Freedom House. Mainstream discourse among Muslims blames everyone but themselves for this situation. The image of an ascendant West belittling Islam with the view to eliminate it serves as a convenient explanation for Muslim weakness.
Once the Muslim world embraces freedom of expression, it will be able to recognize the value of that freedom even for those who offend Muslim sensibilities. More important: Only in a free democratic environment will the world's Muslims be able to debate the causes of their powerlessness, which stirs in them greater anger than any specific action on the part of Islam's Western detractors.
Until then, the U.S. would do well to remember Osama bin Laden's comment not long after the Sept. 11 attacks: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." America should do nothing that enables Islamists to portray the nation as the weak horse.
Mr. Haqqani is professor of international relations at Boston University and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He served as Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. in 2008-11.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkey's national air carrier, Turkish Air, has been transiting Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants from North Waziristan in Pakistan to the Turkish borders with Syria, sources revealed on Saturday, mentioning that the last group were flown to Hatay on a Turkish Air Airbus flight No. 709 on September 10, 2012.
"The Turkish intelligence agency sent 93 Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists from Waziristan to Hatay province near the border with Syria on a Turkish Air Airbus flight No. 709 on September 10, 2012 and via the Karachi-Istanbul flight route," the source told FNA on Saturday, adding that the flight had a short stop in Istanbul.
The 93 terrorists transited to the Turkish border with Syria included Al-Qaeda militants from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and a group of Arabs residing in Waziristan, he added.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of his information, further revealed that the Turkish intelligence agency is coordinating its measures with the CIA and the Saudi and Qatari secret services.
FNA dispatches from Pakistan said new al-Qaeda members were trained in North Waziristan until a few days ago and then sent to Syria, but now they are transferring their command center to the borders between Turkey and Syria as a first step to be followed by a last move directly into the restive parts of Syria on the other side of the border.
The al-Qaeda, backed by Turkey, the US and its regional Arab allies, had set up a new camp in Northern Waziristan in Pakistan to train Salafi and Jihadi terrorists and dispatched them to Syria via Turkish borders.
"A new Al-Qaeda has been created in the region through the financial and logistical backup of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and a number of western states, specially the US," a source told FNA earlier this month.
Ali Mahdian told FNA that the US and the British governments have been playing with the al-Qaeda through their Arab proxy regimes in the region in a bid to materialize their goals, specially in Syria.
He said the Saudi and Qatari regimes serve as interlocutors to facilitate the CIA and MI6 plans in Syria through instigating terrorist operations by Salafi and Arab Jihadi groups, adding that the terrorists do not know that they actually exercise the US plans.
"Turkey has also been misusing extremist Salafis and Al-Qaeda terrorists to intensify the crisis in Syria and it has recently augmented its efforts in this regard by helping the new Al-Qaeda branch set up a camp in Northern Waziristan in Pakistan to train Al-Qaeda and Taliban members as well as Turkish Salafis and Arab Jihadis who are later sent to Syria for terrorist operations," said the source.
He said the camp in Waziristan is not just a training center, but a command center for terrorist operations against Syria.
Yet, the source said the US and Britain are looking at the new Al-Qaeda force as an instrument to attain their goals and do not intend to support them to ascend to power, "because if Salafi elements in Syria ascend to power, they will create many problems for the US, the Western states and Turkey in future".
"Thus, the US, Britain and Turkey are looking at the Al-Qaeda as a tactical instrument," he said, and warned of the regional and global repercussions of the US and Turkish aid to the Al-Qaeda and Salafi groups.
"Unfortunately, these group of countries have just focused on the short-term benefits that the Salafis and the Al-Qaeda can provide for them and ignore the perils of this support in the long run," he said.
"At present, the western countries, specially Britain which hosts and controls the Jihadi Salafi groups throughout the world are paving the ground for these extremists to leave their homes - mostly in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Untied Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as those who live in Europe and the US - for Waziristan," the source added.
In relevant remarks, Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi last week blamed certain states, the Salafis and the Al-Qaeda for terrorist operations which have claimed the lives of thousands of people in his country, and said terrorist groups supported by certain foreign actors are misusing differences in his country to bring Syria into turmoil.
Addressing the 16th heads-of-state summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) here in Tehran on Thursday, the Syrian premier noted terrorist attacks on his nation, and said the "terrorists are backed up by certain foreign states".
"Many countries allege to be supporting peaceful solutions in Syria, but they oppose Annan's plan in practice," he said, and cautioned, "The responsibility for the failure of this plan lies on their shoulder as they strove to keep the Syrian crisis going and falsified events."
"The world should know that the Syrian crisis, in fact, rises from foreign meddling. Certain well-known countries from inside and outside the region are seeking instability of Syria," the Syrian prime minister complained.
Elaborating on the recent developments in Syria, al-Halqi said, "It has been proved that foreign-backed terrorist groups have been misusing events and killing the innocent people."
"These terrorists include Salafis and Al-Qaeda Takfiri groups," he reiterated, and added, "Those states that support terrorism and oppose talks should be given moral and economic punishments as they are part of the problem in Syria."
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.
In October, calm was eventually restored in the Arab state after President Assad started a reform initiative in the country, but Israel, the US and its Arab allies are seeking hard to bring the country into chaos through any possible means. Tel Aviv, Washington and some Arab capitals have been staging various plots in the hope of stirring unrests in Syria once again.
The US and its western and regional allies have long sought to topple Bashar al-Assad and his ruling system. Media reports said that the Syrian rebels and terrorist groups have received significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, a crime paid for by the Persian Gulf Arab states and coordinated by the United States.
The US daily, Washington Post, reported in May that the Syrian rebels and terrorist groups battling the President Bashar al-Assad's government have received significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, a crime paid for by the Persian Gulf Arab states and coordinated by the United States.
The newspaper, quoting opposition activists and US and foreign officials, reported that Obama administration officials emphasized the administration has expanded contacts with opposition military forces to provide the Persian Gulf nations with assessments of rebel credibility and command-and-control infrastructure.
Opposition activists who several months ago said the rebels were running out of ammunition said in May that the flow of weapons - most bought on the black market in neighboring countries or from elements of the Syrian military in the past - has significantly increased after a decision by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Persian Gulf states to provide millions of dollars in funding each month.
Rather predictably, The Guardian this week argued that the wave of violence sweeping the Middle East was a spontaneous reaction to the anti Islamic film, "The Innocence of Islam". The film, we were told, set off a "long fuse that led to an explosion of violence that killed the US ambassador to Libya".
The Independent adopted a similar line with its article headlined: "An incendiary film –and the man killed in the crossfire". It added: "The mob enraged by film mocking Prophet Mohamed kills US ambassador in Benghazi rocket attack".
Then on BBC Newsnight on Thursday, ex-Foreign Office mandarin Sir Jeremy Greenstock waded in. The film, he declared, was definitely the "immediate, proximate cause" of the bloodshed.
Nor was this a British reaction alone, for in the US Hilary Clinton made the same causal linkage. The Guardian's Andrew Brown went even further. "The Innocence of Islam" was an "incitement to religious hatred" that deserved to be banned.
Those who blame this murderous mayhem on an obscure film miss the point by the proverbial country mile. The killing of the ambassador appeared to be the result of a carefully planned assassination by jihadist extremists, such as the violent Sunni group, Ansar al Sharia, rather than a mere spontaneous act of anger.
Far from being an expression of Muslim protest in Libya, it was a deranged act of militancy from radicalised Muslims for whom America and all western influences are mortal enemies. The same can be said for much of the violence sweeping every major Arab capital right now. Reducing murderous violence to "protest" risks legitimisingbehaviour or at least failing to understand its true motivations.
Certainly, one can understand why this amateurish production, a 13 minute clip of which appeared on YouTube, was insulting to Muslims. Its depiction of Muhammad as a pervert and child molester was certainly designed to be intensely provocative. But so are the venomous anti-Semitic and anti-Christian cartoons and images that proliferate in the Middle East. These too cause outrage but we never see mosques or the embassies of Muslim states torched as a result, and rightly so.
It stands to reason that those who are genuinely enraged by this film have a choice about their behaviour. To suggest otherwise is to paint Muslims as backward people who cannot respond to insults except by the sword or the bomb.
It attributes to them a complete inability to defuse their rage by more democratic forms of protest, effectively viewing them as savages from which little better can be expected. Such a view panders to the Islamist grievance culture rather than demanding that Muslims, like everyone else, behave better.
But condemning the "grievance" as much as the perpetrator is fast becoming the default response to mass Islamist violence. In 2002, Muslim mobs went on a murderous rampage in Nigeria, following newspaper comments that Mohammed would have approved the Miss World pageant which was being held in that country. Afterwards, some commentators condemned theorganisers of Miss World in more forthright terms than the violent jihadists.
In 2006, there was a prolonged and outrageous display of global violence following the publication of satirical Danish cartoons in Jyllands-Posten. Some of the cartoons depicted the prophet Mohammed in unflattering terms though again, much of the violence was stoked up by local agitators using these cartoons as an excuse.
But as well as condemning sword bearing, embassy burning fanatics, former British Foreign Minister Jack Straw and some of his European counterparts condemned "irresponsible" Danish newspaper editors for publishing the material.
There was another global outpouring of Muslim rage following a speech by the Pope in September 2006 in which he quoted an obscure medieval Emperor, Manuel II. Manuel had condemned Muhammed’s command to "spread by the sword the faith he preached" and the Pope noted, quite correctly, that Islam had a history of using force to spread and defend the faith.
Indeed the instant frenzy of anti-Christian violence was evidence for that very point. Again, many non-Muslims made the mistake of criticising the Pope’s comments, rather than condemning the illegitimate responses of the extremists. Some media outlets gave airtime to the outrageous and incendiary comments of the Islamist AnjemChaudhry who argued that "capital punishment" would be an appropriate punishment for the Pope.
Lumping offensive remarks or publications with barbaric behaviour excuses the latter while nurturing the extremists’ own victim mentality. But in one sense, this already mirrors the Zeitgeist in liberal Europe. Islamic fanaticism and its terrorist offshoots are seen as the understandable response of a minority aggrieved at "unjust" foreign policy. It is our "provocative" policies in Iraq, Afghanistan or "Palestine" that cause a violent reaction among Muslims.
Hence, it is necessary both to condemn the terrorism and address its "root causes" in foreign policy. As well as being an intellectually false argument, it is morally dubious because it suggests that there is only one inevitable way for enraged Muslims to respond to "our" behaviour. Terrorism remains a choice, and a highly illegitimate one.
Certainly, "The Innocence of Muslims", like the Danish cartoons, is provocative and, for most Muslims, blasphemous. But mob terror and the slaughter of innocents is the preserve of those with an unyielding hatred for western values.
To truly defend those values, our leaders must uphold a system in which we can be offended and, in turn, give offence. The alternative is that we cease to be a magnet for those fleeing from repressive and backward societies.
In recent history, every few years the Muslim ummah breaks out into a spasmodic convulsion of uncontrollable hysteria and violence that defies reason, leaving the rest of humanity bewildered.
The burning and killing continue unabated across the Islamic world as we Muslims, provoked by a pathetic amateurish film mocking the Prophet Mohammed, validate every negative stereotype about us.
Muslims like me revere Mohammed not just as a Prophet, a Messenger of God to humanity, but also as a beloved father-figure, greatly admired and adored. However, what we Muslims fail to recognize is that the rest of the world does not share our opinion and have the right to disagree with our beliefs.
At best, non-Muslims consider Mohammed a mere historical figure who laid the foundation of the first-ever Arab empire in the 7th and 8th centuries. At worst, Islam’s critics consider Mohammed to be a false prophet who introduced warfare as part of the practice of Islam, and whose followers conquered the lands of Christianity and Zoroastrianism, massacred Jews, Hindus and Sikhs. These critics maintain contemporary Muslims are also following the same path of armed or civilizational jihad.
The world’s saner elements may not say so on the record, but they are left angered, wondering how to deal with the sheer madness that unfolds every time Muslims sensibilities are offended. And getting offended, it seems, is the most identifiable attribute of my Muslim brothers.
We burned down the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad in 1979 for no reason whatsoever when Saudi Islamic fanatics took over the Ka’aba in Mecca. We have caused many deaths — mostly Muslim — following the publication of the Danish cartoons. And who can forget the turmoil and murderous mayhem that followed the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses 30 years ago or Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s documentary Fitna in 2008.
What alarms me is the devious, unethical and immoral nature of a critical mass of Muslims who are not offended when Saudi Arabia destroys the 7th century home of Mohammed, but freak out at a film they have not seen or a book they have not read.
Fourteen thousand dead and disappeared youth in Pakistan-occupied Balochistan does not offend their sensibilities; 500,000 Muslim Darfuris killed by the Arab Janjaweed does not bother them; blowing up the Bamiyan Buddha statues is celebrated or shrugged off; 20,000 dead Syrians triggers no attack on an Iranian Embassy — but a mediocre, C-grade film on Mohammed causes mayhem and the murder of an American ambassador. Why?
Our collective hysteria is not helped when shortsighted politicians such as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton try to appease the murdering mobs.
Her reaction brought an uncharacteristic blunt criticism from the former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani. The exiled Boston University professor writing in the Wall Street Journal, said:
“When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to calm Muslims Thursday by denouncing the video, she was unwittingly playing along with the ruse the radicals set up. The United States would have been better off focusing on the only outrage that was of legitimate interest to the American government: the lack of respect—shown by a complaisant Egyptian government and other Islamists—for U.S. diplomatic missions.”
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This is not a Jimmy Carter moment—a U.S. Embassy and its staff seized and held hostage for 444 days, America's enemies taking stock of its weakness, its allies running for cover.
But the anti-American protests that broke upon 20 nations this past week must be reckoned a grand personal failure for Barack Obama, and a case of hubris undone.
No American president before this one had proclaimed such intimacy with a world that stretches from Morocco to Indonesia. From the start of his administration, Mr. Obama put forth his own biography as a bridge to those aggrieved nations. He would be a "different president," he promised, and the years he lived among Muslims would acquit him—and thus America itself. He was the un-Bush.
And so, in June 2009, Mr. Obama descended on Cairo. He had opposed the Iraq war, he had Muslim relatives, and he would offer Egyptians, and by extension other Arabs, the promise of a "new beginning." They told their history as a tale of victimization at the hands of outsiders, and he empathized with that narrative.
He spoke of "colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations."
Without knowing it, he had broken a time-honored maxim of that world: Never speak ill of your own people when in the company of strangers. There was too little recognition of the malignant trilogy—anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti-modernism—that had poisoned the life of Egypt and much of the region
The crowd took in what this stranger had to say, and some were flattered by his embrace of their culture. But ever since its traumatic encounter with the guns and ideas of the West in the opening years of the 19th century, the region had seen conquerors come and go. Its people have an unfailing eye for the promises and predilections of outsiders.
It didn't take long for this new American leader to come down to earth. In the summer of 2009, Iran erupted in rebellion against its theocratic rulers.
That upheaval exposed the contradictions at the heart of the Obama approach. At his core, he was a hyper-realist: The call of freedom did not tug at him. He was certain that the theocracy would respond to his outreach, resulting in a diplomatic breakthrough. But Iran's clerical rulers had no interest in a breakthrough. We are the Great Satan, and they need their foreign demons to maintain their grip on power.
The embattled "liberals" in the region were awakened to the truth of Mr. Obama. He was a man of the status quo, with a superficial knowledge of lands beyond. In Cairo, he had described himself as a "student of history." But in his first foreign television interview, he declared his intention to restore U.S. relations with the Islamic world to "the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."
This coincided, almost to the day, with the 30th anniversary of the Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power in Iran. That "golden age" he sought to restore covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the fall of Beirut to the forces of terror, deadly attacks on our embassies, the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and more. A trail of terror had shadowed the American presence.
Yet here was a president who would end this history, who would withdraw from both the "good war" in Afghanistan and the bad one in Iraq. Here was a president who would target America's real enemy—al Qaeda. "Osama bin Laden is dead," we've been told time and again, and good riddance to him. But those attacking our embassies last week had a disturbing rebuttal: "Obama, we are Osama!" they chanted, some brandishing al Qaeda flags.
Until last Tuesday's deadly attack on our consulate in Benghazi, it was the fashion of Mr. Obama and his lieutenants to proclaim that the tide of war is receding. But we can't declare a unilateral end to our troubles, nor can we avert our gaze from the disorder that afflicts the societies of the Greater Middle East.
A Muslim world that can take to the streets, as far away as Jakarta, in protest against a vulgar film depiction of the Prophet Muhammad—yet barely call up a crowd on behalf of a Syrian population that has endured unspeakable hell at the hands of the dictator Bashar al-Assad—is in need of self-criticism and repair. We do these societies no favor if we leave them to the illusion that they can pass through the gates of the modern world carrying those ruinous ideas.
Yet the word in Washington is that we must pull back from those troubled Arab and Muslim lands. The grand expectations that Mr. Obama had for Afghanistan have largely been forgotten. The Taliban are content to wait us out, secure in the knowledge that, come 2014, we and our allies will have quit the place. And neighboring Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country with 170 million people, is written off as a hotbed of extremism.
Meanwhile, Syria burns and calls for help, but the call goes unanswered. The civil war there has become a great Sunni-Shiite schism. Lebanon teeters on the edge. More important, trouble has spilled into Turkey. The Turks have come to resent the American abdication and the heavy burden the Syrian struggle has imposed on them. In contrast, the mullahs in Iran have read the landscape well and are determined to sustain the Assad dictatorship.
Our foreign policy has been altered, as never before, to fit one man's electoral needs. We hear from the presidential handlers only what they want us to believe about the temper of distant lands. It was only yesterday that our leader, we are told, had solved the riddle of our position in the world.
Give him your warrant, the palace guard intone, at least until the next election. In tales of charismatic, chosen leaders, it is always, and only, about the man at the helm.
Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and the author most recently of "The Syrian Rebellion" (Hoover Press, 2012).
TORONTO - The founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress wants Muslims to stop the bloody protests across the Middle East over the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims.
"If Muslims don't have a thick skin to endure an insult then they should live in another civilization, in another country or in another century," Tarek Fatah said on Monday.
During an appearance on Global Toronto's The Morning Show, the controversial Pakistan-born author and broadcaster said Muslims need to stop the violent protests across the Middle East. "We can't even say, 'You are wrong and we are right.' Is that such a big deal to say? That our democracy ensures I will defend your right to say whatever you say but disagree?"
In Bangladesh, more than 100 people were injured over the weekend as protesters burned vehicles and hurled stones at police who fired back with tear gas. In Pakistan, where demonstrations have killed more than 20 people and injured hundreds, a government minister said he will personally pay for the death of the filmmaker.
Fatah said he believes a peaceful protest in Toronto on Saturday was made up of Muslim radicals. "There was no one there who can be associated with a traditional Islamist group in Canada," he alleged, adding that many imams in Canada are denouncing the violence in the Middle East in front of their congregations.
Fatah said the film deserves scorn because insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed only strengthens "the very people who seek the destruction of western civilization."
Fatah is a controversial figure in the Muslim community for his opposition to sharia law and support for equality for gays and the separation of religion and state. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illustion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Anti-Semitism.
While much of the Islamic world was committing collective frenzied hatred, I was in the United Kingdom and Geneva. While in London, I was researching the archives at the British Library for my next book Jinnah’s Orphans; while in Geneva I had been invited to speak at the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) on human rights violations in Pakistan-occupied Balochistan.
The trip left me both exhausted and depressed. Europe is sliding down a path of economic ruin while Islamists are exasperating race relations by triggering resentment and anger among ordinary, white Europeans. Native Europeans belonging to the centre-right to the ultra right of the political hue, unjustifiably link signs of a visibly emboldened Muslim population as part of the reason for a decline in their living standards.
Islamists relish this development.
Most Muslims I met are as petrified of the Islamist rise as are mainstream Europeans. But they appear powerless in face of the challenge by oil-funded jihadis. Muslim Europeans worry about race relations getting worse, while Islamists see such a prospect with glee. Unfortunately, Muslims who oppose Islamism and defend free speech are lost in the din of the jihad.
Last Saturday I attended an event with over 500 British Muslims from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They danced and sang, read poetry — men and women, girls and boys, granddads and babies, not one of them would fit the profile of the angry Muslim.
These London Muslims were scornful of the raving lunatics who are inspired by the Saudis and the Iranians. Not one of them had seen that film — not one cared about it. One elderly poet, originally from Balochistan, rocked the house with his mockery of the “Mulla.” Akbar Barakzai, 70, who heads the Baloch Human Rights Council in the U.K., has lost none of his fire as he took the stage and mocked the Islamic clergy in his famous poem, O Mulla:
Your belly is like a steamship Your neck resembles that of a rhinoceros, O Mulla
Your robes and beard reek of scents and perfume But your body smells like an animal shed, O Mulla
You indulge in deceit and trickery Now stop eulogizing your amazing ways, O Mulla
We are of course not worthy of your path Go ahead excommunicate us from your community, O Mulla
You piously carry the Koran on your shoulders But your heart is full of animal dung, O Mulla
We do not need your heavenly houries (virgins) For us our homeland is the most wondrous paradise, O Mulla.
The crowd roared in delight. The homeland he was referring to was Balochistan, today occupied by both Pakistan and Iran.
Most Muslims are sick and tired of the Islamist enterprise against the West. Just this week, the Arab American commentator Hussein Ibish, addressing Islamists, said: “To hell with you.”
Writing in Lebanon Now magazine, Ibish wrote: “Blasphemy is an indispensable human right. Without the right to engage in blasphemy, there can be no freedom of inquiry, expression, conscience or religion.”
Responding to calls by Islamic countries to ban insults to Islam, Ibish wrote:
“(T)he OIC wants to globally shut down freedom of thought, conscience and speech to further “protect” Islam from perceived slights. There is only one appropriate response to this, in language the devout should be able to easily understand: To hell with you.”
There are millions of Muslims who wish to stand up for freedom of speech, but we are undermined when U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appease the Islamists, instead of confronting theirfascist ideology.
As American stature and our embassies are attacked across the world, the U.S. needs to develop a clear vision of who we are and what we stand for in the free world. Anti-Islam films and cartoons are but cheap distractions. The challenge before the world could not be clearer — into the abyss left by ruthless dictators is a widening front in the battle for the soul of Islam:
Will Muslim majority societies heed the call of the Arab spring for the rights of the individual? Will they defend the rights of the minority over the collective, over the tribe, over the clerical oligarchs? Or will they just trade one autocracy for another? And will the U.S. stand on the principles we were founded on?
New ideas to the region like individual liberty and the separation of mosque and state are not turned on like a light switch. They are nurtured in a soil that has been tilled for critical thinking. Middle Eastern soil today is far from that. What we see today is more of the past battles between the evils of secular Arab fascism and theocratic fascism. In the information war between them, the liberals and secular democrats have been absent. Meanwhile, the fascists lie in wait for openings like the film and cartoons that exploit the imagined threat of American imperialism in order to legitimize their own ascendancy.
Islamists use these invented crises of faith to motivate spiritual fervor for the “Islamic state” and its legal instruments of shariah like blasphemy laws. While the Obama administration fecklessly condemns the violence and dissociates itself from “the video” grievance — rather than standing firm in defense of free speech and religious liberty — the Islamist agenda advances in full gear.
Consider the proclamations emanating from Al Azhar University, the world’s leading Islamist institution in Cairo. The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, condemned the West summarily telling Egyptians in reference to the film that “the West throughout history has not treated Islam with respect, but showed hostility [against it], and chosen the path of conflict, rather than understanding.
The Islamist narrative is that the defense of liberty is a license to denigrate Muslims and Islam. The U.S. has so far offered a paltry defense leaving reformers, secularists and our real allies ill-equipped and helpless.
Our motherlands face a number of hurdles before they even begin to enter modernity. But to patronize their societies with a different set of human standards than those embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a moral relativism that insults every Muslim.
Tough love is the highest form of respect. Demanding the minimum standard of non-violence is not enough. Moral relativism is exactly what the newly elected theocrats of the Muslim Brotherhood and their mentors at Al-Azhar want in order to widen rather than breach the divide between liberty and Islam.
We still have no strategy to engage real allies of liberty: the silent majority of liberals on the ground in the Middle East. We must signal to them that when it comes to democracy, there is no compromise on the defense of freedom of speech and that defense is inextricably wedded to the first freedom — freedom of religion.
For Muslims, we know well in the stories of the Prophet Muhammad that he sustained considerably more criticism than this movie, cartoons or any attacks of speech bring to bear. He either responded in silence or compassion.
As the old guards rush to fill the power vacuum, the voices of the “Arab Spring” standing up to the tyrants need to know the free world is on their side. The defense of free speech and religious liberty is not a war against faith, but a war against the oligarchs, the despots and the theocrats that would usurp their freedom. Any assumption otherwise is a bigotry our nation fought against not for.
-- M. Zuhdi Jasser is the author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith” and can be reached at zuhdi@....