Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for Islam’s reboot – Maureen Callahan

Maureen Callahan“Ali thinks the West … should look to the lessons of the Cold War and recognize we are waging a battle of ideas — that in 17 Muslim majority nations, the state religion is Islam. … ‘We need to recognize that this is an ideological conflict that will not be won until the concept of jihad itself has been decommissioned.'” – Maureen Callahan

Ayaan Hirsi AliThere was a time when author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali believed it all: that, according to Islam, the infidel should die, that the Quran is infallible, that those who violated sharia law — thieves, gays, adulterers — deserved to be stoned to death or beheaded, as they were each Friday in a public gathering place she and her brother called “Chop-Chop Square.”

Today, she is that rare thing: a public intellectual who, despite death threats and charges of bigotry, calls for an end to Islam — not just as the faithful know it, but as we in the West think we know it.

“The assumption is that, in Islam, there are a few rotten apples, not the entire basket,” Ali tells The Post. “I’m saying it’s the entire basket.”

In her book, “Heretic,” Ali argues for a complete reformation of Islam, akin to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Though her own education led her to reject Islam and declare herself an atheist, she believes that for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, there must be another way.

“If you are a child brought up to believe that Islam is a source of morality” — as she was, in Africa and Saudi Arabia — “the Muslim framework presents you with the Quran and the hijab. I don’t want to be cruel and say, ‘You grow up and you snap out of it.’ But maybe we who have snapped out of it have not done our best to appeal to those still in it,” she says.

Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now - Ayaan Hirsi AliIn “Heretic,” Ali says there are three kinds of Muslims. There are the violent, the reformers, and what she believes is the largest group — those who want to practice as they see fit and live peaceably but do not challenge the Quran, the Muslim world’s treatment of women and the LGBT community, or terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam.

Yet she refuses to label this group as moderate. She believes they have done nothing to deserve it. “I’ve never believed in the word,” Ali says. “It’s totally useless. I think we’re in a time now where we demand answers from Muslims and say, ‘Whose side are you on?’ ”

Ali argues for five amendments to the faith. “Only when these five things are recognized as inherently harmful and when they are repudiated and nullified,” she writes, “will a true Muslim reformation have been achieved.”

Those five notions are:

  1. The infallibility of the Prophet Muhammad and the literal interpretation of the Quran
  2. The idea that life after death is more important than life on Earth
  3. Sharia law
  4. Allowing any Muslim to enforce ideas of right and wrong on another
  5. Jihad, or holy war

Rejecting these ideas, some of which date to the 7th century, is a shocking proposition to the faithful.

“The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world,” Ali writes, “is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here.”

Religious DissentDissent and die

Ali has firsthand experience. In November 2004, after collaborating with the Dutch artist Theo van Gogh on the documentary “Submission” — which criticized the Muslim world’s abuse of women — Van Gogh was shot to death by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim. The assassin attempted to decapitate him and stabbed him in the chest, leaving a note affixed by the knife. It was a death threat against Ali.

She was forced into seclusion and given a 24-hour security detail. Today, she lives with her husband and young son in the United States yet remains a target.

“In no other modern religion,” Ali writes, “is dissent still a crime, punishable by death.”

She knows the greatest criticism she faces is that she is Islamophobic, that she is accusing all Muslims of adhering to jihad, to abuse, to the establishment of a caliphate.

In the book, Ali cites a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center on Muslims’ beliefs. It found that in Pakistan, 75 percent think those who leave Islam should be put to death. In Bangladesh, 43 percent think so. In Iraq, 41 percent.

Those who believe sharia is the infallible word of God: 81 percent in Pakistan, 65 percent in Bangladesh and 69 percent in Iraq.

She also cites a 2007 Pew study that found that among 18- to 29-year-old American Muslims, 7 percent had favorable opinions of al Qaeda, and they were twice as likely as older Muslims to believe suicide bombings in the name of their religion were warranted.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IslamophobiaWar of ideology

This is where Ali thinks the Obama administration has failed.

President Obama “has acknowledged Islamophobia, which is the worst thing you can do for Muslims who are trying to turn things around,” she says. Whether it’s ISIS or al Qaeda or the Taliban or so-called lone wolves — such as the Boston Marathon bombers or the Charlie Hebdo attackers or the suicide bomber who blew up 15 Christians in Pakistan last week or the ISIS suicide bombing that left 137 fellow Muslims dead — when these people say they are killing in the name of true Islam, Ali says, believe them.

She accepts that Obama’s administration is attempting a delicate balance — that to declare war on Islam is exactly what these fighters want — but says more can be done.

“Obama is saying, ‘Listen, Muslims, I’m on your side. I respect your beliefs, and I’d like you to help me fight these attacks committed in the name of your religion,’ ” Ali says. “He’s delivering, and they’re not.”

Western Europe, she says, is turning away from the threat of self-segregating Islamic immigrants at its grave peril. A 2009 study by the think tank Citivas found 85 operational sharia courts in Great Britain alone.

“I think with the Arab world, the West thinks we’re fighting an inferior enemy,” Ali says. “Look at the language we use: It’s jihad, it’s insurgency, it’s asymmetric.” Ali thinks the West, and the US especially, should look to the lessons of the Cold War and recognize we are waging a battle of ideas — that in 17 Muslim majority nations, the state religion is Islam.

“We did not say the Soviet system was morally equivalent to ours; nor did we proclaim that Soviet communism was an ideology of peace,” Ali writes. “In much the same way, we need to recognize that this is an ideological conflict that will not be won until the concept of jihad itself has been decommissioned.”

Sam HarrisThe “mother lode”

The greatest obstacle to an Islamic reformation is the diffuse nature of the religion itself. Unlike Catholicism, there is no leader, no papal equivalent to endorse or denounce jihad. In fact, there is no hierarchy of any kind, and any man who wishes can declare himself an imam.

Meanwhile, groups such as ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban are successful precisely because they have top-down leadership, codified warfare and an explicit, simple goal. “These groups are adapting to modern technology, to modern innovations in organization and management,” Ali says. “They know that without a hierarchy, human beings understand nothing.”

She is gratified by the stance taken by Sam Harris, a prominent American neuroscientist and author of “The End of Faith.”

“Sam realizes that among religions, Islam is unique in its atrocity, that everything we said about [violence in] Christianity and Judaism was hundreds of years ago. He calls Islam ‘the mother lode of bad ideas,’ which is extremely brave,” she says.

With “Heretic,” Ali is calling on those Muslims who reject jihad, acts of terror, and the subjugation of women and infidels to organize, to challenge, to speak out loudly and often against violence committed in the name of Allah — and she is calling on the West to actively demand it.

“This is a transformation of the West as we know it,” she says. “We’re at the beginning, and what we do right now is going to be consequential.” – New York Post, 22 March 2015

» Maureen Callahan has worked as an editor and writer at the New York Post for seven years, covering everything from the subcultures of the Lower East Side to local and national politics. She has also written for Spin, New York, and the late, lamented Sassy. In 2009, she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the New York Post.

Sam Harris

Pakistan: Religious women protesting against Charlie Hebdo Magazine

ISIS is an Islamic Fourth Reich – V. S. Naipal

V. S. NaipaulThe Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul has warned that Islamic State are the most potent threat to the world since the Nazis.

In a hard-hitting article in the Mail on Sunday, the revered novelist brands the extremist Muslim organisation as the Fourth Reich, saying it is comparable to Adolf Hitler’s regime in its fanaticism and barbarity.

Calling for its “military annihilation,” the Trinidadian-born British writer says IS is “dedicated to a contemporary holocaust,” has a belief in its own “racial superiority” and produces propaganda that Goebbels would be proud of. 

A long-term critic of Islam as a global threat, he also challenges those who say the extremists have nothing to do with the real religion of Islam, suggesting that the simplicity of some interpretations of the faith have a strong appeal to a minority.

He has likened Tony Blair to a pirate whose socialist revolution had imposed a “plebeian culture” on Britain and found himself embroiled in controversy in 2001 by comparing Islam to colonialism, saying the faith ‘has had a calamitous effect’ as converts must deny their heritage. – Mail Online

 Lt Moaz al-KasasbehImagine a world in which a young man is locked in a cage, has petrol showered over him and is set alight to be burnt alive. 

Imagine the triumphant jeering of an audience that has gathered to witness this. Imagine, also, a 12-year-old child with elated determination on his features shooting at close range a kneeling man with his arms tied behind his back.

Then picture the spectacle of a hundred beheadings of victim after victim in humiliating uniforms, their hands and feet bound, kneeling with their backs to their black-robed executioners who wield knives to cut their throats as though they were sacrificial lambs. 

Picture queues of helpless men and women being marched by zealous executioners who nail them to wooden crosses and crucify them, howling and bleeding to death as crowds watch. 

Then picture thousands of girls and women, their arms tied, being marched by hooded and armed captors into sexual slavery. And then, if that is not enough, picture men being thrown off cliffs to their deaths because they are accused of being gay.

Yes, all these scenes could have taken place in several continents in the medieval world, but they were captured on camera and broadcast to anyone with access to the internet. These are scenes, of yesterday, today and tomorrow in our own world.

I have always distrusted abstractions and have turned into writing what I could discover and explore for myself. 

So I must begin by admitting that I have not recently travelled in those regions threatened by barbarism—the Middle East, the north west of Africa, in pockets of Pakistan and in the Islamic countries of south-eastern Asia.

However, in the 1980s and early 1990s I undertook to examine the “revival” of Islam that was taking place through the revolution in Iran and the renewed dedication to the religion of other countries. 

I travelled through Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia attempting to discover the ideas and convictions behind this new “fundamentalism.”

My first book was called Among The Believers and the second, perhaps prophetically, Beyond Belief. Since those books were written, the word “fundamentalism” has taken on new meanings.

As the word suggests, it means going back to the groundings, to the foundations and perhaps to first principles. It is used to characterise the interpretation given to passages of the Koran, to the Hadith, which is a collection of the acts in the life of the Prophet Mohammed and to an interpretation of sharia law.

ISIS FlagHowever, the particular fundamentalist ideology of ‘Islamist’ groups that have dedicated themselves to terror – such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and now in its most vicious, barbaric and threatening form the Islamic Caliphate, ISIS or the Islamic State (IS) – interprets the foundation and the beginning as dating from the birth of the Prophet Mohammed in the 6th Century.

Top ISIS LeadersThis fundamentalism denies the value and even the existence of civilisations that preceded the revelations of the Koran. 

It was an article of 6th and 7th Century Arab faith that everything before it was wrong, heretical. There was no room for the pre-Islamic past. 

So an idea of history was born that was fundamentally different from the ideas of history that the rest of the world has evolved.

In the centuries following, the world moved on. Ideas of civilisation, of other faiths, of art, of governance of law and of science and invention grew and flourished. 

Abdulmecid IIThis Islamic ideological insistence on erasing the past may have survived but it did so in abeyance, barely regarded even in the Ottoman Empire which declared itself to be the Caliphate of all Islam.

But now the evil genie is out of the bottle. The idea that faith abolishes history has been revived as the central creed of the Islamists and of ISIS

Their determination to deny, eliminate and erase the past manifests itself in the destruction of the art, artefacts and archaeological sites of the great empires, the Persian, the Assyrian and Roman that constitute the histories of Mesopotamia and Syria. 

They have bulldozed landmarks in the ancient city of Dur Sharukkin and smashed Assyrian statues in the Mosul museum. Destroying the winged bull outside the fortifications of Nineveh satisfies the same reductive impulse behind the destruction by the Taliban of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has described this destruction of art, artefacts, inscriptions and of the museums that house them not only as a butchery of civilisational memory but as a war crime. 

It is telling that the victims of Wednesday’s barbarous shootings were visitors to the great Bardo Museum in Tunis, a repository of art and material from Tunisia’s rich, pre-Islamic past.

Isis is dedicated to a contemporary holocaust. It has pledged itself to the murder of Shias, Jews, Christians, Copts, Yazidis and anyone it can, however fancifully, accuse of being a spy. It has wiped out the civilian populations of whole regions and towns. Isis could very credibly abandon the label of Caliphate and call itself the Fourth Reich.

Joseph Goebbels Like the Nazis, ISIS fanatics are anti-semitic, with a belief in their own racial superiority. They are anti-democratic: the Islamic State is a totalitarian state, absolute in its authority. There is even the same self-regarding love of symbolism, presentation and propaganda; terror is spread to millions through films and videos created to professional standards of which Goebbels would have been proud.

Just as the Third Reich did, ISIS categorises its enemies as worthy of particular means of execution from decapitation to crucifixion and death by fire. 

Whereas the Nazis pretended to be the guardians of civilisation in so far as they stole art works to preserve them and kept Jewish musicians alive to entertain them, ISIS destroys everything that arises from the human impulse to beauty. 

Such barbarism is not new to history and every nation has suffered mass murder and barbaric cruelty in the past. That a European country in the 20th Century launched a holocaust on the basis of race is a matter of the deepest shame. 

That ISIS has revived the religious dogmas and deadly rivalries between Sunnis and Shias, Sunnis and Jews and Christians is a giant step into darkness.

The Arab lands, relatively stable under the Ottoman Empire, were divided up by the British and French victors of the First World War into the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Jordan at the Cairo Conference of 1920. Borders were drawn in straight lines and the sons of the Mufti of Mecca imposed on the newly carved territories as kings.

Winston Churchill was advised at the Cairo conference by T. E. Lawrence and by Gertrude Bell, who should have known that the Shia would not readily welcome or acknowledge a Sunni king and vice versa.

After upheavals, rebellions and military coups, the region settled down under dictatorships in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Saddam HusseinThe Ba’athist Party was, in some senses, a modernising force and Saddam Hussein, though a Sunni, ruled the predominantly Shia and partly Kurd nation of Iraq with a ruthless hand. Wherever two or three were gathered in the name of the Almighty, he sent in his police.

He may not have been a savoury character but his overarching policies were holding on to power and modernising Iraq. 

He was the cat that kept the rats of Islamism at bay. His invasion of Kuwait, another artificial sheikdom, poor in territory at the knee of Iraq but rich in oil, triggered the international reaction against him. The Bush-Blair alliance invaded Iraq and the puppet regime they set up executed Saddam. In the absence of the cat, the rats ran riot.

Muammar GaddafiAnd so it has proved throughout the region. The Libyans, with the assistance of a European alliance, overthrew Gaddafi. The country is now at the mercy of Islamic militants. The same Arab Spring saw democratic protest against the Egyptian dictator and resulted for a while in an elected regime veering towards the repressions of Islamism. 

It was overthrown by a military coup whose leader, General el-Sisi, speaking to the clerics and supposed scholars of the authoritative Islamic university Al-Azhar, called on them to denounce ISIS as the greatest threat to international peace and exhorted them to declare the ideology of ISIS a heresy. The mullahs of Al-Azhar have not as yet complied.

In Syria, the conflict of groups opposed to the government of Bashar Al-Assad resolved itself in the formation of a Sunni Islamicist militia, which in turn evolved—after a significant bloodletting – into ISIS.

Are ISIS and its followers heretics? The politicians of Europe and America, including David Cameron, Barack Obama and Francois Hollande, after every Islamist outrage insist on describing them as a lunatic fringe. Their constant refrain is that these perpetrators of murder and terror have as much to do with Islam as the Ku Klux Klan has to do with Christianity or the testament of Jesus Christ. But does such political assurance bear scrutiny?

Of course the politicians, church leaders and others who say “these atrocities have nothing to do with Islam” are not making a researched or considered theological statement. They are attempting, quite rightly, to prevent civil discord in a world in which there are considerable Muslim immigrant populations in most countries of Europe and in the US.

UK girls for JihadSo what impels the tiny minority of young men and women from immigrant communities to volunteer themselves to “jihad” and to almost certain self-destruction, or young women to abscond from their families and from European reality to become jihadi brides.

When I visited Pakistan, I discovered what I have characterised as the effects of an ideological nurture. The Pakistani or Bangladeshi Muslim is taught that he or she has no historical antecedents before the conquest of parts of India and its conversion to the faith.

ISIS RecruiterThe pressures of poverty and promise bring this Muslim to Britain. He and his family don’t speak English. 

They are confined to work and live in an exclusively immigrant area of an inner city—say Bradford, Tower Hamlets or parts of Greater Manchester or Birmingham. 

Their children are raised as Muslims, some strict some not so strict, and are sent to the normal city schools which soon become almost exclusively immigrant.

Some find that the values that traditionally inform them are at variance with those of the lives they see around them. This is true for even those Muslim young men and women who are being educated, through Britain’s by-and-large egalitarian system, to be surgeons or computer programmers.

Mumbai youth join ISISIslamism is simpler. There are rules to obey, a jihad to fight against the civilisation you can’t comprehend, a heaven to go to when you martyr yourself and now a real fighting force in the world which you can join to simplify and solve your existence: no history to complicate your self-awareness, no art to distract you, no ambivalence and choices that “Western” civilisation offers you, no doubt about the fruits of martyrdom, no allegiance to the country in which you were brought up and which gave you a free education and perhaps welfare benefits. A gun, a half-understood prayer and the simplicity that a simple and singular upbringing craves.

That is why they go. And volunteer for death, and die.

In the past three or four centuries since Descartes, Leibniz and Newton, Islam remained encrypted in the revelations of the Koran and the Hadith of a 6th Century life.

The expansion of the scientific enquiry coincided with or possibly caused the maritime expansion of European colonialism. Empirical science, the progress of liberal religion and the germination of modern democratic ideas coincided with European colonial dominion over Asia and Africa.

The process of decolonisation in the 20th century gave rise to the idea that every advance in civilisation, scientific or democratic, was to be condemned as “colonial.” There may be no ideological answer to such bigotry. 

The Islamic world does contain currents that are opposed to the interpretations that ISIS gives to the Koran, the Hadith and to sharia. These are yet to declare themselves.

Though the appeal of ISIS can be challenged by other strands of Islam, its murderous presence persists in the failed states of Iraq and war-torn Syria and threatens to spread through northern Africa.

Iraqi Army against ISISThe crippled Iraqi government has launched its reluctant armies against ISIS. The Iranians, being Shias opposed to Sunni Caliphates, are supporting the Iraqi army and the Shia militias, who are a considerable force independent of the Iraqi government, are in a coalition to fight Isis on the ground. With air support from the West, they may manage to push ISIS back.

Such an offensive, with the immediate objective of regaining Iraqi territory has to be urgently expanded. ISIS has to be seen as the most potent threat to the world since the Third Reich.

It’s military annihilation as an anti-civilisational force has to now be the objective of a world that wants its ideological and material freedoms. – Mail Online,  22 March 2015

» Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, TC, is a Trinidad-born Nobel Prize-winning British writer known for his comic early novels set in Trinidad, his bleaker later novels of the wider world, and his autobiographical chronicles of life and travels. Naipaul has published more than 30 books, both of fiction and nonfiction, over some 50 years.

Iraqi soldier's heads by ISIS


Why no “Je suis Avijit Roy” for Avijit Roy? – Ahmar Mustikhan

Ahmar Mustikhan“Roy’s killing was indeed the Charlie Hebdo of Dhaka. However, since Dhaka is not Paris and since Roy and his wife are brown in colour, activists and intellectuals from South Asia say the killing did not get the attention it deserved in the West.” – Ahmar Mustikhan

Avijit Roy“The Two Nation Theory drowned in the Bay of Bengal in 1971,” Baloch nationalist leader Sardar Ataullah Mengal once said. Bengal is the famed homeland of artists, intellectuals and geniuses such as Swami Vivikenanda and Rabindranath Tagore. Bengal’s eastern half, now Bangladesh, was also the land where that saw the ignominious defeat of world’s largest Muslim army, Pakistan army and capture of more than 90,000 “Butchers of Bengal” as prisoners of war. Bangladesh emerged on the world map as a secular nation as Pakistan army stood defeated after conducting a genocide of at least three million Bengalis and raping tens of thousands of Bengali women. Dhaka became the Waterloo for Pakistan army, thanks to Gen Sam Manekshaw. Scholars still rank Bangladesh with Turkey and Tunisia among the three secular nations in the world, though Kakul-trained army generals, Ershad and Zia, did try to change the secular nature of the state to an Islamic republic. It is pertinent to write here that Kakul in Abbottabad houses the Pakistan Military Academy and gained world infamy after terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was discovered living there in May 2010.

Against this backdrop, the hatching to death of Avijit Roy, 42, in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on the last Thursday of February was a shocker for writers and journalists in South Asia. Roy’s wife Rafida Ahmed, 45, who is a fellow writer, was seriously wounded and lost a finger in the deadly attack. Some reports suggested Roy, a free thinker, was punished among other reasons for marrying a Muslim woman. Roy, a naturalised American from Alpharetta, Georgia, had gone to Dhaka for a book festival and speaking engagement on his latest books, including one entitled “The Virus of Faith,” according to CNN. Roy’s killing was indeed the Charlie Hebdo of Dhaka. However, since Dhaka is not Paris and since Roy and his wife are brown in colour, activists and intellectuals from South Asia say the killing did not get the attention it deserved in the West.

Nazir S BhattiNazir S. Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress, in Philadelphia, told this writer he was sad that while the entire West descended on Paris to defend freedom of expression after the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists’ killings, Western protest over Roy’s killing remained muted. “Dozens of heads of state march for human rights and value of freedom but none speaks when Roy is brutally hacked to death in Dhaka,” said Bhatti. He added he was shocked that the news media portrayed Roy as an atheist – as if to give a dog a bad name and hang him – even though Roy was a born Hindu who believed in the freedom of speech and expression. “The Hindu community in Bangladesh, just like the Christians, is already under threat of Muslim extremists,” he said.

Bhatti credited the Hasina Wajed government for boldly facing the Islamist threat, for bringing the Islamist war criminals to justice and for maintaining the secular character of her nation and said it may not be very difficult to bring Roy’s killers to book as he was constantly under threat of the Islamists. Bhatti said the ISI role in Roy’s killing cannot be ruled out, as Pakistan has been in the forefront to defend Islamists in Bangladesh. Pakistan home minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned Bangladesh for bringing the war criminals to justice, he recalled. These war criminals took part in the killing of millions of Bengalis, a big chunk of whom were Hindus. From Dhaka, senior Bangladesh journalist Saleem Samad said investigators blame Ansarullah Bangla Team, which has several offshoot groups, for killing Roy. An elite anti-terror unit, called RAB, has arrested Islamic extremist blogger Farabi Shafiur Rahman, who is a key suspect in the Avijit Roy murder case, Samad said. Samad, who is also a correspondent for the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, said Bangladesh had faced an Islamist threat ever since its birth in 1971. “The Muslim bigots who were with Jamaat-e-Islami and who had failed to protect the Islamic nation Pakistan, continued to conspire, sabotage Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujib‘s dream of a secular nation,” Samad said. He said the dreaded ISI has armed and funded militants in Northeast Indian states to destabilise India’s northern region. “ISI had always recruited Jihadis from Bangladesh to fight with Mujaheddin in Afghanistan. Later, ISI aided and abetted Al Qaeda media and international fund-raising wings to be transferred to Bangladesh in 2002,”  he said.

Peter BishopSamad added in recent years that Bangladesh sleuths have busted sleeper cells of Al Qaeda and other Jihadis, who primarily operate in Kashmir, and other regions of India. Samad said the slain writer had thousands of sympathisers in Bangladesh and foreign countries–wherever there is a Bangladeshi community. Many in the East blame the Obama administration for the growth of global jihadi terror, but some liberal sections of US society who stand solidly with President Obama praise his handling of the Islamist challenge. Peter Bishop, Phd, a humanist philosopher associated with the Washington Ethical Society, who had worked hard for Obama’s election victory, said it was wrong to say Roy’s killing did not get Western attention. He said the overwhelming reaction to the Charlie Hebdo killings was a little overboard and said “cooler heads” are beginning to be wary of blaming Muslims in general for this, and to try to figure out how to separate the Muslims who are terrorists from those who are not terrorists.  “President Obama has been trying to organise this kind of effort worldwide with some success.  Europe was hoping that they were being more successful in integrating Muslims into their societies even though France was obviously doing a poor job of this, as evidenced by their laws against wearing Muslim clothing,” Bishop said.

Commenting on the racial angle, Bishop said although many people who live and work in the United States but were born in India feel some of the racial prejudice felt by African Americans, “I believe that this prejudice is not as bad as it is for African Americans. Although Bangladesh is not India, I think Avijit Roy benefits from this goodwill towards people from India than towards African Americans. “Obama’s supporters might be thinking the American president is showing respect to the Muslim world by trying to be politically correct. However, some of his actions were seen to be too repugnant even by Americans. One such action was when Obama bowed to kiss the hand of the late Saudi monarch King Abdullah – the “Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines” and owner of oil wells – at the G20 summit in London in spring 2009. Unlike their US counterparts, liberals from South Asia have a poor view of Obama’s handling of the Islamist threat.

Tarek FatahCanadian writer and broadcaster Tarek Fatah, who like Roy continues to receive threats from Islamists, shared Bhatti’s feelings that the killing of Roy did not invite as much outrage simply because of the victim’s skin colour. Tarek Fatah, who is a fierce critic of President Obama playing softball with global Islamists, in a column in the Toronto Sun called Obama’s three-day summit “Countering Violent Extremism” an insult to Muslim opponents of Islamic extremism. Obama had hosted the summit at the White House and deliberately left out Muslim critics of jihad. “It soon became evident the three-day summit was a theatre of the absurd. The very people who have preached Islamism and promoted Sharia in their sermons were invited to recommend how to undo the damage done by their teachings,” Fatah wrote in his Toronto Sun column. He added, “Imams from American mosques which practice gender-segregation and homophobia, representatives of Gulf Arab states who funded and promoted the ideology and the government of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and women sporting Muslim Brotherhood-mandated hijabs dotted the audience and speakers.” – Dailyo, 4 March 2015

» Ahmar Mustikhan is a journalist of long-standing from Balochistan, now residing in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. In his professional career, he has worked for leading newspaper groups in Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Obama bows to Abdullah

How to combat global Islamism – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“There is no short-cut solution to integrating Muslim communities, whether in France or in India. This is because Islam does not allow Muslims to fully integrate with local communities; as a system of ideas, Islam is designed to essentially separate Muslims from the practices of non-Muslims. … Muslims everywhere will continue to separate themselves from the rest of society. Islam doesn’t permit integration, despite which some Muslims do integrate.” – Tufail Ahmad

Charlie HebdoThe continuing series of jihadist attacks by “lone wolves” – some call them stray dogs but both the terms are insults to animals – in London, Boston, Sydney and Paris illustrates the fact that modern democracies cannot take their freedom for granted. After the Second World War, democracies faced threats from armed communism.

Seven decades on, democratic nations and their liberties are still threatened, this time by radical Islamism. It is a matter of time before Indian democracy too will come face to face with such threats, especially since the signs of radicalisation are emerging in many parts of India.

The January 7 attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo illustrates two points: first, democratic nations must put in place a counter-radicalisation strategy that integrates Muslim communities and counters radicalisation. Second, big powers must join hands and evolve a global strategy against the jihadist threat currently wreaking Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and others. As of now, the Western powers are not engaging in developing a global strategy against Islamism due to the fear that they will be seen as anti-Islam.

However, the longer the West takes it to tackle this cancer, the bigger it will become. It was indeed this realisation which forced the leaders of forty countries including the UK, Israel, Germany, Palestine, Jordan, Poland and Spain to march hand in hand with the French president in Paris on January 11 to denounce the attackers of Charlie Hebdo.

Let’s explain the second point to understand how the international system of states has become problematic. The modern nation-states – with sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s affairs being their defining characteristics – emerged after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, an agreement which ended the Thirty Years War during which conflicts between the Protestant and the Catholic states had transformed into a war between the great powers.

Flags at the United Nations building in New YorkWhile the newly emerging nation states ended the war to the benefit of their peoples, they are now doing exactly the opposite. For example, the Pakistani nation-state crushes its people in Balochistan. The Sunni nation-state of Bahrain tramples upon its Shia majority. The Chinese nation-state suppresses its Muslim population in Xinjiang.

United Nations HQ New YorkIraq suppresses the Kurds and Sunnis while Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan allow persecution of their Shia minorities. (Kashmir is not a good example because the people elect their government, can openly challenge the power of the Indian nation state and are about to overcome jihadist insurgency commissioned from outside.) The argument here is this: the international state system anchored to the United Nations since the Second World War is failing to address emerging problems caused by its member-states, notably the rise of global jihadism. The UN is paralysed. There are two urgent needs: dismantle the UN and seed a new international state system; and evolve an international strategy to undermine the global jihadism from within and without.

A global strategy must take into account the suppression by nation-states of people within their own borders as well as the state support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Pakistan to jihadist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Canadian-Pakistani writer Tarek Fatah has suggested that global extremism can be undermined from within by addressing the issues of Balochistan, Kurdistan, Turkey’s support of Muslim Brotherhood, among others.

If some Western countries are willing to recognise Palestine as a state despite the jihadist ideology of Hamas, there is no reason why the Kurds who have abided by the norms of civilised behavior should not get Kurdistan.

To return to the first point, the need for counter-radicalisation strategy, the democratic states must evolve their own domestic policies to challenge radicalisation. Over the past year, India has witnessed worrying symptoms of radicalisation: Muslim youths posed for a group photograph in ISIS t-shirts in Tamil Nadu.

ISIS in KashmirIn Kerala, stickers in favour of ISIS were seen on cars. In Kashmir, masked youths waved ISIS flags. In the toilet of a Mumbai airport, a passenger wrote ISIS threats. In Jharkhand, someone deemed it fit to print “ISIS Pakistan” on t-shirts. Muslim youths from Mumbai went to Iraq and some were detained in Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad over ISIS links.

Sanjeev Dayal, Director General of Maharashtra police, has proposed a counter-radicalisation strategy, which argues for inclusive housing for Muslims, mainstreaming of madrasa education and dealing with perceived grievances, among others. Dayal took inspiration from a Singaporean law that mandates mixed ownership in housing societies for the Malays, Indians and the Chinese.

The police chief also warned against online propaganda that radicalises Muslim youths. All the suggestions are practical, but there is no short-cut solution to integrating Muslim communities, whether in France or in India.

This is because Islam does not allow Muslims to fully integrate with local communities; as a system of ideas, Islam is designed to essentially separate Muslims from the practices of non-Muslims.

In Dayal’s state, this writer asked a Muslim man, who has not gone to college, a question: what do Urdu religious channels like the Peace TV of televangelist Zakir Naik teach? His response: they teach us about Islam. Probed further as to what he and his family learn from these channels, he explained: wo hamein Islam ke saanchey mein dhalte hain (they shape us into the mould of Islam).

Muslims everywhere will continue to separate themselves from the rest of society. Islam doesn’t permit integration, despite which some Muslims do integrate.

Lee Kuan Yew: “I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came ... I would say today, we can integrate all religions and races except Islam.” Nevertheless, attempts for reform must be made on an urgent basis. India needs to think long-term and evolve a 100-year strategy, seriously. Such a strategy must do the following: all madrasas and mosques should be registered and their finances audited by local officials, a task unachievable if the same is not done for temples and churches; madrasa syllabi should be reformed to include – in addition to the teachings of the Quran, Hadiths and Islamic Studies – English and material sciences as well as a primer on need-blind subjects like liberal arts from the primary standards. – The New Indian Express, 14 January 2015

» Tufail Ahmad is Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. Email: tufailelif@yahoo.co.uk


Charlie Hebdo — Je Suis Charlie

Cartoon by Francisco J. Olea

Cartoon by Cyprien

Cartoon by David Pope

French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's publisher and cartoonist, known only as Charb, clenches his fist as he presents to journalists, on September 19, 2012 in Paris, at the headquarters, the last issue which features on the front cover a satirical drawing entitled "Intouchables 2". Inside pages contain several cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed. The magazine's decision to publish the cartoons came against a background of unrest across the Islamic world over a crude US-made film that mocks Mohammed and portrays Muslims as gratuitously violent. The title refers to "Intouchables", a 2012 French movie, the most seen French movie abroad, which is selected to represent France for the Oscars nominees, according to one of his directors, Eric Toledano. AFP PHOTO FRED DUFOUR

“Criticism of religion is the very measure of the guarantee of free speech—the literal sacred institution of society.” – Jonathon Turley

Charlie Hebdo Famous Cover

People hold placards reading in French "I am Charlie" during a gathering in front of the prefecture in Lille, northern France, on January 7, 2015, following an attack by unknown gunmen on the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Heavily armed men shouting "Allahu Akbar" stormed the Paris headquarters of a satirical weekly on January 7, killing 12 people in cold blood in the worst attack in France in decades.  AFP PHOTO / DENIS CHARLET        (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)

More cartoons at VOX & THE DAILY BEAST

The Jihadi's End!


Open up radicalisation of Muslim youth debate – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“An erroneous belief is held by Indian government leaders that not talking publicly about radicalisation in India could curb jihadism. India is a free society, deriving its strengths from openness and law. This strength can work only in a public way, when media and citizens debate the causes and extent of radicalisation.” – Tufail Ahmad

Haribhai Parthibhai ChaudharyOn December 10, India’s junior minister for home affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told Parliament: “There are no intelligence inputs to suggest that Al-Qaeda and ISIS terror groups are working together to target Indian cities.” Intelligence agencies are engaged in a difficult task of tracking terror networks. Let’s assume that Chaudhary was presenting a correct assessment of the jihadist threat before the nation. However, 2014 has been an extraordinary year during which the threat of radicalisation from jihadist movements like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda did enter Indian homes.

Based on jihadist sources and media reports, it is possible now to establish routes and patterns of radicalisation in India. One, several youths from Tamil Nadu based in Singapore came in contact with ISIS jihadists. The notable case here is that of Fakkurudeen Usman, who took his wife and three children to Syria. The radicalisation wasn’t limited to Singapore, as the jihadists made recruitment efforts in Chennai. Two, it emerged in April that a Kashmiri youth, Adil Fayaz, was radicalised in Australia and he travelled perhaps directly from there to Syria via Turkey. An additional point to remember is this: Several educated Kashmiri youths went missing over the past two years.

Three, after al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s announcement of the establishment of the al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), it was reported in September that 23 youths from Thoubal district of Manipur had left their homes in two batches to join the AQIS. Their joining al-Qaeda shouldn’t surprise, since the Northeast has witnessed anti-Muslim violence in Assam and nearby Myanmar. In the past, non-Muslim terrorists from ULFA travelled through China to Afghanistan not for jihad, but to train at Osama bin Laden’s camps. Four, from India’s viewpoint, the biggest story was that of four Muslims from Mumbai who flew to Iraq as Shia pilgrims and joined the ISIS. One of them, Arif aka Areeb Majeed, was injured and with the help of Turkish businessmen reached Turkey for treatment. He was brought to India.

Mehdi Masroor BiwasFive, Arif Majeed revealed that he saw 13 Indian youths already present at a training camp in Syria. His statement indicates that these Indians had gone to work in the Middle East, probably in the UAE, from where they joined the ISIS. Six, in a worrying development, it was revealed this month that a popular jihadist account on Twitter was operated by Indian youth Mehdi, who was working for a Bangalore-based firm. Seven, Munawad Salman, a software engineer and former employee of Google in Hyderabad, was arrested for trying to join the ISIS. Also, Telangana state police stopped 15 engineering students, ISIS in Kashmirincluding a girl, from Kolkata where they had gone for an onward journey to Iraq in September. Another Hyderabadi youth was detained in Mumbai. Eight, youths wore T-shirts and waved flags in favour of ISIS in Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand.

Nine, the footprints of Pakistan-sponsored jihadist organisation Indian Mujahideen were seen in several bomb blasts in recent years in different parts of India, though its leadership is in disarray due to arrests of some key leaders. However, many innocent youths are also languishing in jails because they were arrested by police just to prove their own effectiveness. Ten, as revealed in the videos of Ansarut Tawheed Fi Bilad Al-Hind from mid-2013 onwards, at least nine Indian Muslims were being trained in Pakistan by a Saudi jihadist. A jihadist organisation with a similar name, Ansarut Tawheed Wal Jihad Fi Kashmir, emerged after this year’s floods in Kashmir, offering to host al-Qaeda fighters though it noted that it faced difficulties.

From these developments, one can derive some lessons. Radicalisation is taking place both in India and among expatriate Indian workers based in the Middle East and elsewhere. The radicalisation is of two types: Muslims are self-taught in jihad and connected to jihadist groups through social media; they are also recruited by jihadist groups. Indians have gone mainly to four countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. In the past, Indian jihadists went to Grozny, Serbia and Glasgow. Also, some commentators have dismissed the emergence of ISIS T-shirts in Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Kashmir as innocent transgressions by street urchins, but they are an important barometer of radicalisation underway in Indian society: from Mumbai to Hyderabad, from Chennai to Manipur.

Ajit DovalAt a conference in Delhi on November 22, this writer asked national security adviser Ajit Doval to estimate the number of Indian youths who got radicalised and migrated for jihad. Doval skipped the written question but noted that five-six youths were inclined to join the jihadist groups but their parents contacted security agencies which helped them. However, from jihadist sources and the Indian media, it is possible to estimate the number of radicalised youths. Various media reports have put the number of such youths in scores, up to 300. It appears definitive that nearly 50 Indian jihadists are based in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. As long as jihadism in Pakistan survives, India will continue to face threats. Arif Jamal, a New York-based author, recently warned that the global jihadism has expanded to three poles: Nigeria, Iraq-Syria and Pakistan-Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, an erroneous belief is held by Indian government leaders that not talking publicly about radicalisation in India could curb jihadism. India is a free society, deriving its strengths from openness and law. This strength can work only in a public way, when media and citizens debate the causes and extent of radicalisation. It is also essential that while pushing Pakistan for justice in the 26/11 case, India must deliver time-bound trial of terror cases on its soil, including the 2007 Samjhauta Express case. A dysfunctional India cannot be a great republic. Authoritarian systems like China and Saudi Arabia can crush the jihadists, but being a free society means that India has an additional task: to catch the jihadists as well as to protect their rights guaranteed under the Constitution, the source of liberty for Indians. – The New Indian Express, 20 December 2014

» Tufail Ahmad author is Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. Email: tufailelif@yahoo.co.uk

Tamil Muslim youth in ISIS t-shirts: Is this the future for India?

Peshawar massacre consistent with Prophet Muhammad’s teaching, says Pakistan Taliban – Ahmar Mustikhan

Umar Khurasani  (Omar Khalid Khorasani)

Six Taliban Child Killers

Prophet Muhammad“Umar Khurasani insisted the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan followed what he called sunnat, or actions of Prophet Muhammad during wars. He said those who are saying the Peshawar attack was un-Islamic should read Sahih al-Bukhari, 5th Volume, Hadith No. 138.” – Ahmar Mustikhan

The Islamic terrorist outfit that carried out the bloodiest school massacre in world history Wednesday defended its action as being in line with what Prophet Muhammad, who Muslims believe was the last messenger of God, did with his enemies 1400 years ago. “At the time of the Bannu Qurayza massacre, Prophet Muhammad ordered only those children be killed whose pubic hairs have appeared,” said Umar Khurasani [Omar Khalid Khorasani], spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Bannu Qurayza was a Jewish tribe that lived in present day Medina. Islamic history texts confirm 800 men and boys and one woman of the Qurayza tribe were beheaded. “Killing of children and women is according to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad; those who are objecting should study Sahih al-Bukhari,” Khurasani said. Khurasani insisted the TTP followed what he called sunnat, or actions of Prophet Muhammad during wars. He said those who are saying the Peshawar attack was un-Islamic should read Sahih al-Bukhari, 5th Volume, Hadith No. 138. Bukhari is considered to be one of the most authentic books on what Prophet Muhammad said and did during his lifetime. The TTP statement coincided with the television interview of Maulana Abdul Aziz, chief cleric at the Lal Mosque in Islamabad, who flatly refused to condemn the Peshawar attack during a television talk. But he did acknowledge the jihadists were prepared by Islamabad for jihad in Kashmir.

Maulana FazlullahMany Pakistanis also noted with concern that none of the Arab countries uttered a single word of condemnation against the Peshawar attacks. Islam was first transported to what is now Pakistan and India by Arab marauders. “Pakistan buried 132 children. It failed a generation. The world mourns these Angels, but am waiting for that one ‘leader’ with a conscience to ask where are statements, vigils, condolences from the bloody Arabs!?” said Pakistani journalist Reema Abbasi, who authored Historic Temples in Pakistan: A call to conscience. Leaders in India, world’s largest democracy, which faces terror attacks from Pakistan on almost a daily basis in Kashmir, condemned the terror attack. “My heart goes out to everyone who lost their loved ones today. We share their pain & offer our deepest condolences,” Indian premier Narendra Modi tweeted. India’s home minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, “My heart goes out to the families of those children who got killed by the terrorists in Peshawar. I express my condolences to those families.” Likewise, Indian government spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted, “Our hearts go out to the grief-stricken families of the innocent Peshawar School Massacre 2014children killed & injured in this barbaric attack in Peshawar.” However, since Pakistan is a roguish state in nature that nurtures global jihadists, a man with a $10 million bounty on his head and who works closely with Pakistan’s infamous Inter-Services Intelligence, Hafiz Saeed Ahmed, termed the attack a conspiracy of the Indian government. “If India can send troops to Afghanistan to help the US, then Mujahideen have every right to go to Kashmir and help their brethren. Kashmiris are clamouring for help and it is our duty to respond to their call,” Saeed was cited as saying in a report in the First Post. Wednesday Pakistan’s former coup leader India-born Gen Pervez Musharraf, in an interview with CNN, also blamed India along with Afghanistan for the terror attack. To the chagrin of many intellectuals in India and Pakistan, Musharraf, who started the Kargil war with India in 1999, was invited for delivering talks in India during the previous Congress government.

Hussain HaqqaniMeanwhile, Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani envoy to the U.S., who almost got killed by the ISI for allegedly issuing visas to Americans who tracked down bin Laden next door to Pakistan’s West Point, in an article in The Indian Express expressed hoped that the Pakistan premier spy service and the military which he called “deep establishment” would rethink their policy and move in a new direction. He said the Inter-Services Intelligence might feel reassured by commitments from the Haqqani Network, Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Toiba / Jamaat-ud-Dawa to not conduct militant operations inside Pakistan. “But there is no guarantee that these instruments of regional influence would not, in turn, support groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Pakistani Taliban,” Haqqani said. – Examiner, 17 December 2014

Ahmar Mustikhan» Ahmar Mustikhan is a journalist of long-standing from Balochistan, now residing in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. In his professional career, he has worked for leading newspaper groups in Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Muhammad kills Jews of Medina


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