Monday, 30 December 2013

Child Marriage: Is it an Afghan Problem Only?

The Islamophobic media of the far right, and the more subtle elements within the mainstream media, have continued to construct the view that child marriage is exclusively an Afghan problem, and the Islamophobic narrative given as explanation is - it stems from their Islamic heritage, and using crass language, they go on to cite the lone example of Prophet Mohammed’s marriage to Ayesha, and conveniently ignore all the other marriages to much older women.

Throughout large part of the history, this was not an issue; the Christian nemesis did not make much of an issue, as the mother of Jesus, Mary, at the age of 12-14 married Joseph, who was considerably older around the age of 90. Indeed, in the old days, marriage between an older man and a younger woman in her teens was the norm in most societies. In contrast, Western liberal societies view such marriages with scorn, instead the young ones gain the experience by having unlimited pre-marital sex with various partners, a bit like polygamy, but we dare not call it that! According to one government report [1], almost all Americans are engaged in per-marital sex and there are similar trends in Europe.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Niqab Ban Furore, Miley Cyrus and the Silence of Feminism

“One of the major arguments being lobbed around this week as to why Muslim women shouldn’t be wearing veils in public is because they are a symbol of male dominance in society. As if knicker skimming dresses aren’t? ... On the streets of our cities every night of the year there are girls in outfits created purely for the pleasure of men.”                                           
 Alison Phillips Journalist

A woman’s right to choose is at the heart of feminism; also endorsed by the liberal ideology of ‘freedom’. So, they argue that Hijab or the Niqab should not be enforced in society, and it should be left to the prerogative of the individuals. But surely, the notion of choice also implies that women should not be forced to remove it either.  Accordingly, I was expecting to hear feminist voices coming to the defence of the right to wear the Niqab, along with the bare-breasted women from ‘Femen’ running through the streets of London, waving their fists, demanding the same. A disclaimer, I used the term bare-breasted as an adjective, and this should not be taken as my personal desire to see these semi-nude women behaving like cavewomen; it’s not dignified for any woman or man to behave in this way, in my book.

Would the feminist and the liberal camp have remained silent, if the situation was reverse, say a group of women in Iran or Saudi wanted to parade in their miniskirts or bikinis? I know it’s not as raunchy as Miley Cyrus, nevertheless, raunchy enough for a conservative Muslim society. You can bet on them coming out of their holes, waging a campaign to ‘save’ the Muslim women again, and the current fad of Zionist inspired Islamophobia would guarantee favourable and ample media coverage.  

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria: Who Done It?

Like a real life game of ‘Cluedo’, we know the weapon, the victims, the place and the time. Only the identity of the perpetrator remains a mystery.   The primary suspects are the Syrian regime or the rebels; both sides have the capability to deliver these nasty weapons, as for motive, there is a degree of uncertainty.  The Syrian regime is winning the war on the ground, and the use of such weapons would only unify the rest of the world against them, thus, such an action looks irrational and counter-productive.  Especially in light of the fact that Obama already stated the use of chemical weapons was a line that could not be crossed. Moreover, the immediate and equivocal Syrian response, requesting an UN inspection team to verify the matter seems to point to their innocence.

Could the rebels have done this? One cannot imagine they would use chemical weapons on their own people, to perpetuate an uncertain military response, with an uncertain outcome, unless it was done by a lunatic fringe extremist group among the rebels.   

Let’s ask: cui bono (to whose benefit?).  An attack on Syria would benefit its rival, Israel. For sure, they have the experience (e.g. Lavon affair) and the capability to engage in a covert operation, if needed in collusion with the CIA, to deliver these weapons and manufacture a crisis. Of course, there is a difference between logic and truth, it does not always follow that the party who stands to gain the most benefit is automatically guilty.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Modern Day Feminism is a Fig Leaf for an Anti-Islamic Crusade

A picture is worth a thousand words is the age-old proverb; an image can certainly convey many ideas instantly. However, a deceptive image tells a bigger story, it spawns lies and disseminates hate on a larger magnitude. It is the hate-filled Islamophobic fascists that have been busy tarnishing the Muslims as a whole, by cherry picking certain actions, hiding behind certain political terms, and operating behind the ubiquitous mass media.  

Like most Muslims, I have become accustomed to seeing numerous anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim images appearing on social media networks, and the internet, such images would get censored if it were aimed at any other community. One would be hard pushed to find similar material appearing from Muslims; at most you see posters from victims and angry mobs on the streets demonstrating in response to an American-Israeli led atrocity or another video insulting Islam published in the name of free speech.  

The above image depicting a woman with an acid-burnt face along with an adjacent image of burnt pages of the Quran, implying the two are somehow connected, and the caption boldly suggests the two are alternatives. It alleges those who are busy protesting against burning of the Quran are the same people who implicitly endorse burning a woman’s face with acid, because they do not display the same reaction. What about those who are not protesting against the burning of the Quran, are they all exonerated?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Trouble with Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins speaks like a colonial relic resurrected from the past, and naturally he is out of touch with the current society; he speaks pejoratively about Muslims that seems to be coloured by his obsession with Darwin’s race-centric evolution theory.  His recent jibe on tweeter about the less evolved Muslims having less Nobel Prize than Trinity College went viral, and it is part of his catalogue of smears against the voiceless Muslim community. For years, believers from all sections of society have tolerated his unrestrained arrogance in propagating atheist dogmas, as if he had witnessed the creation of the universe.

Why is the man so impatient? Nobody in this world is contesting the certainty of death. And soon Dawkins will have his answer regarding afterlife, which in turn will answer the questions about the creation and purpose of life on earth. I pray that it is sooner for his sake - he seems unsettled, and from the believers’ perspective, this is expected, because atheists do not really have full conviction that life is a coincidence, a product of evolution, and it simply ends here. Our intelligence has propelled us to ask why we exist, and our observation of life and the universe clearly tells us nothing happens by chance, for example leaving building materials in a field will not result in the creation of a building by chance. Hence, there is always a lingering doubt in the back of the atheist’s mind; otherwise, they would exhibit more serenity than believers, who are agitated by the notions of accountability in the hereafter.  It is this deep uncertainty that drives the likes of Dawkins to knock on our door and push to debate the issues, because it is fundamentally about his insecurity.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Trials of Love and Loyalty

The 49-year-old widow of the Apple founder Steve Jobs has moved on, she has found her new partner; already the critics and sceptics are at it. It’s too soon, only two-years have passed by, how could she fall in love with another man so quickly? Does it mean she didn’t really love him? The cycle of speculation and gossip continues. One can understand grounds for criticism in cases where an aging octogenarian tycoon has left a younger beautiful widow, who runs off the next day with his fortune and a young male model, but that, is not applicable here. 

In some religious cultures widows do not remarry at all, enduring loneliness until the end of time, whilst a widower is free to continue. For example, In Hinduism the marriage of widow is taboo, it is enforced rigorously by society among some castes; the logic is, if the widow remarried, she can possibly conceive her reincarnated dead husband in her womb, and a husband cannot be a son too, thus prohibition of marriage for widows. I assume they were not willing to take risks with contraception either!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Inexplicable 'Zero Option' for Afghanistan

The formal announcement of an exit date for the US troops has been largely met with criticisms, because it gives the opponents a schedule to prepare and plan, and creates the impression, the US has lost and is running. Instead of exercising further damage limitation exercises, the US senior officials announced that President Barack Obama was now considering the ‘zero option’ - total withdrawal of US forces after 2014. This seems detrimental, whilst a bilateral security agreement between Kabul and Washington is being negotiated to determine the size of the US forces to remain after the US exit; their role will be to aid the nascent Afghan National Security Forces ( ANSF) to maintain peace and stability. 

Naturally, the announcement of the ‘Zero Option’ has been criticised widely by military experts and diplomats. The former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, retired Gen. John Allen stated: “They don't want us in large numbers, but they want us there in enough numbers to help to continue to develop the ANSF." On the surface this announcement of the ‘Zero Option’ seems like the US is announcing total capitulation. However, given the recent political development with the efforts to get a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, it could mean two things: 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Ramadan Message and the Emergence of British Islam

The video message of Prime Minister David Cameron, and the tweet from President Obama, wishing the Muslims well, as they begin observing the month of fasting in Ramadan is really a nice gesture; it makes as small contribution to neutralise the acidic clash of civilisation, which is manifested in the various conflicts around the world. Many of us, Muslims and non-Muslims are still bitter about the illegal Iraq war and Western leaders continue to turn a blind eye to the Israeli python strangling and suffocating the Palestinians – but we also need to acknowledge the just intervention in Libya that helped to prevent a bloody massacre by the Libyan dictator, and the masses in the West are now more sympathetic towards the Palestinians. Many of us also wanted to see Western troops, preferably helped by Turkey and other Muslim nations to remove the murderous Syrian regime.   

It is not just the Muslims who are reluctant to acknowledge the positive gestures emanating from Western leaders; the British comedian, Frankie Boyle, replied to President Obama’s tweet  “I wish Muslims of America & around the world a month blessed with the joys of family, peace and understanding” with the following “the ones you force-feeding in Guantanamo or the ones you bombing” and it went viral.  Indeed, had Obama closed down the camp as he promised, his tweet would have been amplified in the Islamic world.   

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Imams’ Sermons and the ‘British’ Street Groomers

Last Friday, Imams in various mosques around the country delivered a political sermon (khutba) for a change - it was not about the awful situation in Syria or Burma, but on the domestic issue of street groomers; the men in question entice vulnerable young girls with gifts, drugs and alcohol for sexual exploitation, and if necessary employ violence to keep them in chains. Imams do not need to deliver sermons or pass a fatwa, it is common knowledge that adultery, rape, prostitution, drugs, and alcohol are explicitly forbidden in Islamic law, and the jurists are unanimous on this. The sermon sent out a political message - it implied some level of collective guilt on the wider Muslim community, as if they have to bear some responsibility for the actions of the street groomers. One is naturally compelled to ask the simple question: what’s the connection between the street groomers and the wider Muslim community? Is it simply their Muslim names and heritage? Had the street groomers committed armed robbery or murder, would a similar sermon be delivered?

What about the fact that the street groomers are predominantly British; many were born and raised here through the education system, so should the society not feel the collective guilt too, and deliver a similar sermon? Of course, the media deploys the race card in a subtle manner, the British tag is conveniently dropped and they are described as Muslim or Pakistani street groomers. They are not as British as Tommy Robinson, Nick Griffin, Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall, Gary Glitter, Mark Bridger, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady!  The adjective of ‘Muslim’ or ‘Pakistani’ implies the acts are somehow linked to their religious or cultural roots, no relation to their British identity and the values of the wider society that ‘ironically’ permits alcohol (drugs) and casual sex, as opposed to the Islamic heritage of the street groomers.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Is there a Shia-Sunni conflict brewing in the Middle East?

In times of conflict, religious, ethnic, linguistic traits are accentuated and the sectarian dimension is no exception. With the direct involvement of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy, the Syrian conflict accelerates towards becoming a sectarian one and small skirmishes along the sectarian line have already occurred across the border in Lebanon. The Shia axis of Iran, Hezbollah, and the Alawite regime is balanced by the Sunni dominated rebels, supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf states. Assad is no more an Alawite Shia as was Saddam Hussein a devout Sunni, both subscribed to the doctrine of socialist orientated Arab nationalism, devoid of Islam. A dubious ideology when you consider that Arab civilisation began with the birth of Islam.

The US intervention in Iraq and the subsequent altering of the balance of power has resulted in the Shia-Sunni tensions; a dominant Shia-led regime emerged replacing the Sunni denominated Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein bringing a long line of Sunni rule to an end. The end result is seen through the tit for tat bombings between Shia and Sunni killing many innocent civilians. Across the border Iran has been building up its military capability to its credit, increasingly asserting itself as a regional power.
The US stance has shifted from a pro-Sunni position during the heyday of Ayatollah Khomeini, when Shias were the extremists, to a more pro-Shia stance in Iraq, against the militant Sunni inspired Al-Qaeda type movements of the post 9/11 era. It is reminiscent of a former British Prime Minister’s remark - no nation has permanent friends or enemies but only its interests.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Internet Porn – Women, Children & Pets

“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.” (Jeremy Bentham, the utilitarian philosopher)

About 15 to 30 % of the World Wide Web’s traffic is porn and that is quite substantial when you think in terms of sales revenue from a global product, for example Coca Cola. In this case, the profit margin is far greater, because unlike a perishable item, a porno film is like a piece of software that can be consumed multiple times as new, and does not need to be reproduced after consumption. This lucrative income makes Internet moguls like Google reluctant to curtail the easy access to porn that the Google Search Engine is renowned for. As the old adage says, money makes the world go round; accordingly it makes the World Wide Web spin faster. And it becomes a tornado when combined with the catalyst of sex.

The internet filter could be applied easily, with the option to bypass it by filling in a consent form for example. However, this would only partially address the problem of very young children gaining access to porn unwittingly; the source of the problem would remain as people would easily get acquainted to bypass the filter, and the older children would pass this knowledge to the younger ones. In any case, increasing censorship and legislation is not enough, this problem has to be tackled from the root, and we literally need to go into the heart of the problem.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The True Cost of the Afghan War and the Colonial Mindset

“I prefer land to niggers” Cecil Rhodes

There is constant talk of evolution as the answer to the age-old question: what is the purpose of life on Planet Earth. The answer points to the conclusion of a purposeless life - we are another breed of species that follows the same cyclical pattern of birth, consumption, growth, procreation and death. Do the animals also ponder on the meaning of life and subjects like the beauty of art? I leave that to the evolutionists. The fact is, unlike the animal kingdom, human society is in a state of flux; our thoughts, ideas, values, and the food we harvest, deliver and consume using various modes of transport and the means of production are constantly changing. 

However, does this change or evolution constitute progress? For example, our ability to kill thousands using high powered technology, and the last century has been the bloodiest in human history; even a feeble soldier can zap an entire town with his forefinger. We hail the internet to communicate and engage in global trade with ease, yet, it is also used to disseminate porn, making up 15 to 30% of the web traffic that includes child porn (abuse) and violent rape and other unspeakable things.  

Monday, 3 June 2013

Pakistan Election – What does it mean for the Afghanistan-Pakistan Relationship?

In the old days of Zulfikhar Ali Bhutto, the slogan was roti, kapra and makan (food, clothing and housing), in this election it was neya Pakistan (new Pakistan); a new Pakistan that is free of corruption. It was the hope and aspiration of many, especially the younger generation, who are exasperated seeing the decade of corruption within the two dominant parties, PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) and PML (Pakistan Muslim League) and their failure to eradicate the wider corruption in society that has manifested itself in nepotism, bribery and the influential feudal system.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Radicalisation – Causes and Solutions

After the recent beheading of a British soldier in Woolwich, the government announced its plan to combat radicalisation, yet the plan solely consisted of targeting the primary victims of radicalisation; the voiceless Muslim minority. As a peaceful British citizen, I am deeply concerned about the rising tide of radicalisation over the last decade; consequentially, violent actions have followed resulting in the deaths of many innocent people; this is coupled with a systematic demonization of a community by the acidic mass media. In recent times, the media propaganda has been accompanied with racial undertones that have emboldened the xenophobic far right groups, and there is little sign of this process coming to a halt, let alone being reversed.

This radicalisation process started with the Blair regime. Indeed, one may ask what caused Tony Blair as a leader of the socialist orientated Labour party, to join hands with the radical right wing Republican party of George Bush, and his neo-conservative cabal that are marginally to the left of the far right. Most Americans are radicalised, they are xenophobic, inherently violent, obsessed with guns, operate with the Wild West philosophy of shoot first then asks question. One can only speculate what sort of program Blair was put through at the Crawford ranch in Texas, but after his return, he started to cite God as justification for his policies, despite being head of a secular nation that says keep religion out of politics. Yet, religion was invoked whilst the killings went on, and he remains unrepentant, waiting for his place in heaven, according to his conviction in a Catholic God, these are clear signs of a radicalised man.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A British Baha Mousa Murdered in Woolwich: Declaration of War and the Covenant of Security

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"   (Mahatma Ghandi)

Much has been said about the political dimension to this issue in terms of motive, and I will address that later, first I want to focus on the justification given behind the act, which may explain how these home-grown ‘terrorists’ arises in the first place, and help to bring forward a solution to the problem. Had this been debated ‘honestly’ post 7/7, this killing may well have been avoided. 

Like the 7/7 bombings in 2005, the killing of the British soldier (Lee Rigby) in Woolwich is a response to British foreign policy that has resulted in the killing of many innocent Muslims, not a day passes when we hear the deaths of innocent families killed by drones or some other military action. According to the words uttered by one of the two culprits, the motive was revenge, and clearly stated they took a life as an eye for an eye. There was no mention of religion, but the religious dimension of this case is palpable as they could only identify with the victims in Afghanistan on religious grounds 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Tornados, Hurricanes, Tsunamis and Earthquakes – Why God Permits Evil

As the US recovers from the devastation brought about by the unexpected Tornado, the religious and the secular factions will be out arguing the usual causes behind it. As for the political section, there is silence; this time there is no Al-Qaeda, no terrorists or the extreme far right to blame. Such events do bring about our philosophical thoughts to the surface; it gets us to think about the nature and the meaning of life and the universe. An event beyond our control causing so much devastation, killing indiscriminately, why does this happen? Some say it is a random event, the work of Mother Nature, and others say it is God sending down collective punishment. Depending on how you interpret the event, it can either bring a person to conviction in the existence of a Creator, or reaffirm his denial of a Creator, as is the current fad. 

If it is the former, the trail of thought is on the basis of observing the frailty and weakness of the human species. There must be something more powerful that has ensured the survival of the human race; otherwise we could have become extinct through major calamities in the past, and there has been plenty starting from the ice age. As for those who move towards the other direction, increasing their conviction in the absence of a benevolent Creator argue: how can God permit such evil, calamitous events kills saints and sinners indiscriminately; this is the age-old question from the atheist corner. And calamitous events add credence to the argument that there is no such thing as a loving God, maybe a killer God, but is that not an oxymoron? In fact that makes the case for Devil worshipping.

However, who says calamities and hardship can be equated to evil, and that God cannot inflict hardship on his creation? Isn’t that an assumption? If we build on this premise then one can argue by inference that hardship of any kind is evil on a smaller scale, hence the pain experienced through child birth or the toil in earning a living is also evil. This creates more questions than answers; clearly this is not a consistent viewpoint.

According to Islamic theology evil is disobedience to God, it relates entirely to the way we exercise our free will and is no relation to the natural events around us. If we kill others without a just cause, then we have taken a life without a divine permit and there is retribution for this evil deed. But can the same logic be applied to God, who is the Creator and the legal owner of life. Even in the realm of the human sphere, if I build a house, it is my prerogative to burn it down as I am its legal owner. What stops me from smashing my car in the garage? Thus what law stops God from taking the life that he created in the first place?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Are the Street Groomers Pakistani or British?

The seven convicted men in the Oxford grooming case were identified by their ethnicity. In contrast, similar cases involving white men are rarely scrutinised along the same line, provided the case is given any media coverage in the first place. This sends out a crude racist message:  when white men rape white girls it’s bad, but when non-white Pakistani men do it, it is so bad that it becomes unbearable to remain politically correct, and their ethnicity is identified. What is the difference between the discrimination of racially segregated America in the 1800s and the attitude towards Pakistani men in the united kingdom of 2013? Naturally, the discussion that ensued from the media headlines is how the ethnic mindset is shaped by their religion and culture; the driving force behind the crime. Alternatively the media could have simply treated the case as it is, a group of criminal men acting on opportunities and exploiting vulnerable young girls. This is a clear example of how the main media is stoking Islamophobic culture as the norm which the far right amplifies using vulgar and crude language.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Better Burqa than Crass Nudity

I always thought clothes were the mark of civilisation; one of the characteristics that distinguishes the human race from the animal kingdom.  We conceal our private parts, engage in acts of intimacy with our spouse in privacy, and have ancient rules that guide and restrict with whom we can procreate with. These characteristics reflect the higher values of human societies. The early European colonisers with the Christian missionaries used to scorn the native Africans and others for appearing nude or semi-nude.  Yet, the current trend is we see the clothes come off when the sun comes out; the diehard liberals see nudity as an expression of freedom and progression.

The tiny number of activists affiliated to the feminist group Femen, are running around like naked savages in various towns, and their selective mission is to save Muslim women from the Burqa, “better nude than Burqa” is the slogan. They should have at least asked first, do the Muslim women want to be saved by bearing their naked breasts?  You don’t have to be devout, moderate or a radical; even the most liberal Muslim families would take offence at their mothers, daughters and sisters behaving in this crude way. Far from support, these wild women are likely to have got a slap in their face from Muslim women; their motto will always be better Burqa than nude or better clothed than nude, we are human beings with honour and dignity, and it is not befitting for us to appear nude in public like animals!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Afghanistan: What did they die for?

The recent deaths of three British Soldiers has led to the same questions in the British media - why are they still in Afghanistan and what did they die for? Never mind the countless, non-Taliban Afghan men, women and children that are consumed daily by the American drones; they are nameless and faceless peasants, and the media is busy with more important things. The number three has a special resonance now, not the holy trinity, but earlier the Boston bombers killed three and it mobilised the American armed forces on a massive scale, as compared to the killing field of Sandy Hook that consumed almost ten times that figure. As always, when foreigners kill, it deserves special attention!

  Read More....

Thursday, 18 April 2013

A Primitive Drone Attack in Boston

I can imagine the Afghans in Kabul saying:‘Get a small taste of your drones’ , as they look at the images of the Boston bombings on television. In their minds, the marathon maybe the equivalent of the Afghan wedding celebrations that gets bombed, the perpetrators were targeting American terrorists hiding among civilians thus inflicted collateral damage. If you want to know how others feel, put yourself in their shoes is the proverb. It is amusing to see the frenzied Americans pouncing on anyone who remotely looks like an Arab or a Muslim as a suspect. A Saudi national was already identified by the media mob, who in reality turned to be one of the victims; the lessons of Oslo and Oklahoma have already become distant memories. 
I can imagine the Afghans in Kabul saying

You hear the media scream “innocent civilians”! The crusader brigades led by the likes of Mr Erik Rush at Fox News have already pronounced the contradictory edict: “Muslims are evil, kill them all”. Isn’t the act of killing everyone, which would include women and children, the epitome of evil? If Mr Erik Rush was intelligent enough to prod, he would see that many fellow conservatives around Fox News privately view him with a level of disdain, due to his mixed racial heritage; but coolies are useful as colonial British found out in India. His tweeter feeds are full of expletives, a male version of Pam Geller, spewing out hate and zero content; this reflects the crass nature of the American conservatives wrapped up in ignorance.

If the outrage is caused by the innocence of civilians, then lets us be frank and ask: “are the American civilians genuinely innocent or are they collateral damage like the Afghans?” If it is the latter then there is no grounds to register any complaints; otherwise, one has to compare their innocence with the innocence of Afghan civilians. And unlike the elected drone-killer, Obama, the Afghans did not elect the Taliban, nor did they invite the Americans. It is only fair to hold the civilians complicit, in relation to their role of electing and authorising the actions of their respected governments. No contest here, the Americans being a democracy wins! They continue to elect leaders and permit them to pursue illegal wars, extra-judicial killings, and victims often include women and children; surely the American civilians should understand and expect that there will be similar retaliation in kind. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Do Female Rulers help to promote Gender Equality or Women’s Rights?

With the death of Margaret Thatcher, the old question comes to mind: why has no other female followed in her footsteps in the UK? Why she didn’t inspire other females? Did womankind turn on her or has the country run out of talented females? I think that is unlikely. When Margaret Thatcher won the election, I recall the chauvinistic jibes; like the Alf Garnet character, some argued that she is really a man in disguise in that her character, psyche and personality is essentially male, but her hormones went towards the other direction and gave her female organs and appearance.

It must have been awful for her husband to hear this type of comment. Spitting Image, the satire on TV, conveyed the impression that he was largely confined to Thatcher’s harem. Perhaps if he had done something interesting, like adultery or file for divorce, then the press would have given him greater media coverage.  And the few times he appeared on the media, he had a fixed morbid expression; it made me wonder, was this due to his marriage or his nature. Regardless, he is due some credit; there was activity in the bedroom, and the couple produced healthy children. The Imam in me says MashaAllah, and the ethnic part of me says “shabbash”, loosely translated as “well done”.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Historical Milestones of Afghanistan - Part 1, The Pashtun Identity and the Durand Line

In order to comprehend the politics and the complexity of the various forces that shapes the current Afghan nation, it is necessary to examine the historical milestones along with the economic infrastructure, and the composition of the major influential tribes distinguished by linguistic and religious affiliations: Pashtun, Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik, Aimaq, Turkoman, Baloch and other smaller tribes. I intend to produce a series of articles that will seek to analyse these factors. The primary objective is to give an overview, so that those who are not familiar with the region get acquainted with the basic facts rapidly, and one can refer to other scholarly materials for further in-depth analysis. 

I am less interested in ancient history, as the evidence is scant for such material, and less relevant to the current situation. Nor do I think it is necessary to cover the events chronologically, which can be dull, and readers will be more interested to get familiar with the current events via which the history is introduced.
From the media coverage, everyone knows the Taliban as a militant group that took control of Afghanistan, from the ashes of the civil war that followed the Soviet exit. They were trained and organised in Pakistan, with a view of bringing stability; they seized power in 1996 until ousted by the Americans through the post 9/11 invasion. The Taliban gave refuge to Al-Qaeda fighters, who are largely made up of Muslims from the Arab and central Asian region, led by the charismatic Usamah Bin Laden, whose history goes back to the Russian invasion in 1979.  The loose alliance with the Al-Qaeda meant they shared similar viewpoint; the outside world view them as fanatical, intolerant, misogynist, literalist, rejection of western values including imperialism (or ‘trade’). However, unlike the fighters from Al-Qaeda, many of the Taliban are far less educated in the conventional sense.  The subject of the rise of Taliban and the Al-Qaeda will be analysed further in a future article.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Afghanistan and the Triple 'Entente'

 Unless the Taliban are drawn into the political process, they will continue to pose a challenge to the Karzai government, and this is likely to escalate after US forces leave the country in 2014; they may even succeed in seizing power reigniting another civil war. The major players are Pakistan and the US with India being the third minor party; Pakistan has influence via the Taliban, India has a relationship with the Northern Alliance (formed by the non-Pashtun tribes to counter the dominant Pashtun based Taliban), and the US has its interest along with its military might.

Read More ...

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Does the Tunisian Nude Help to Liberate Women?

From the arguments that rage over the Islamic veil and the bikini, a battle between the conservatives and liberal secular forces, you would think it can be summed up as:  nudity is liberation and covering up is oppression from the secular faction. A Tunisian woman took the bait, and from the birth place of the Arab-Spring she displayed her breasts, with "My body is mine, not somebody's honour" written across it, clearly aimed at the conservative faction of society. This is supposed to contribute towards the advancement for women’s rights, because the argument goes, it shows that she has control over her body, nobody (men in particular) is forcing her to cover up. One would assume the protest in a different form would take place, if the women were forced to walk around topless in Tunisia in the first place.  

On that note, women who chose to wear the Hijab (head scarf) under the previous regime were treated awfully, and in countries like Turkey the HIjab was banned in public life. The same argument of women having control over their bodies and having the ability to exercise their choice is applicable here, but it did not lead to the feminists screaming; hence, why the selectivity? Ironically, it seems the feminists are pandering to the male urges through the back door, as they are only intervening when women want to strip!    

Monday, 4 March 2013

Was the Ottoman Caliphate Terminated on the 3rd of March, 1924?

On this day, the 600 year old Ottoman Caliphate was formally abolished. The date should resonate in the Islamic world, invoking a sad loss, representing a significant turning point in Islamic history, but it does not, around the Islamic world it’s a normal day like any other. But why is that? Given that Muslims in general are still committed to Islam, it is unlikely that they have lost interest in their history, essential part of a nation’s identity. The only other explanation that comes to mind is that the event was not significant, the destruction on the 3rd of March was merely symbolic; the palace was closed, the Caliph with his family members were expelled quietly, as if some employees in a private firm were made redundant. Hence, the nation continued with the new secular government of Mustafa Kemal, it was business as usual. If the event represented a change of system that would have caused shocks in society, which implies, the Ottoman State as a fully functional Caliphate was already dead and buried, what remained was merely a historic relic.

The obvious question that follows is, when the Caliphate as a fully functional state ceased to exist. Over the years, I have heard various opinions on it, one of the popular opinions is 1809 with the removal of Sultan Abdul Hamid.  In any case, pin-pointing the exact time is irrelevant, because the death of the state was a slow process; one can see the decline passing various milestones, with its borders shrinking. In contrast, whenever a society undergoes a radical transformation, through the establishment of a new ideology, the upheaval is marked by violence and the loss of life.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Is Free Speech a Licence to Promote Islamophobia and Protect the Zionist Narrative?

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all. (Noam Chomsky)

In defence of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, the Danish Cartoons and the recent YouTube movie, the liberals argued that Muslims should not get too upset over the offensive contents, because this was about the ‘sacred’ free speech or freedom of expression; the right to express a certain viewpoint, no matter how offensive or accurate. The problem is this is not applied consistently across the board. Why it is free speech to mock religious values, and yet a similar tone of language is not tolerated against a particular racial group or a group with a certain sexual orientation?

The usual suspects lecturing about free speech are not the ones on the receiving end, and when the tables are turned, free speech conveniently transforms into incitement to violence or threats to national security. The persecution of Julian Assange is a classic example of America behaving with such duplicity.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Is it time to sacrifice Hamid Karzai?

As 2014 approaches for the full withdrawal of the US-led forces, the question of the Taliban issue remains unresolved; they are essential for a political settlement that is likely to result in long term stability. Otherwise, there is a real risk of a civil war breaking out after the US departure, as occurred after the Soviet withdrawal, when the country was left to the mercy of various tribes and warlords. In addition, the US plans to leave a counterterrorism force in Afghanistan to continue the fight against remnants of al-Qaeda, which would find difficulty to operate in a volatile environment. The negotiations are critical to get a prisoner exchange with the Taliban, who are holding the only US service member, Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl.

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Friday, 25 January 2013

Is ‘Free’ Speech a Product of Secular Intolerance?

From the days of Salman Rushdie and the Danish Cartoons to the recent movie on YouTube, the issue of free speech and Islam has primarily surfaced in the context of vulgar language being directed at the Prophet (saw) and the teachings of Islam; this rabid Islamophobia is fueled by the mainstream media, in particular the gutter tabloid press like the Daily Mail. To reinforce the prejudice, the media disseminates un-Islamic actions of individual Muslims as representative of Islam. Besides the mass media, the Internet is filled with many anti-Islamic websites, engaged in the same task of circulating crude propaganda and inciting hate.

There are primarily two types of groups engaged in this type of activities, the far right extremists driven by xenophobia, and the militant secular camp. The former has adopted the anti-Islamic stance to conceal their disdain towards foreigners. So they make the flimsy argument that the Muslims are not a racial entity. That is true; however, the Muslims are largely composed of foreigners, when they are attacked by the far right, one can see the racist undertones and at times the clear racist language surfacing.