The uncomfortable truth about Jamal Khashoggi – Omar Ghazi

Jamal Khashoggi

Omer GhaziThe redesigning of Jamal Khashoggi’s image as that of a journalist and a free-speech martyr is all part of the Left’s alliance with Islamists. …  By making heroes out of people like Khashoggi, the Left has shot itself in its own foot – Omar Ghazi

The chilling details of the Jamal Khashoggi murder coupled with narratives provided by Saudi officials—that change every day—have created an atmosphere of confusion. But nobody has bothered asking the right question: Out of the hundreds of journalists slaughtered across Islamic nations on a regular basis, what was so special about Jamal Khashoggi?

First of all, even a school-going child would know that very little happens inside the Saudi Kingdom without the knowledge of the crown prince Muhammad bin Salman. That he claims he was unaware of his officials allegedly carrying out the brutal assassination of an international critic of his policies is almost laughable.

It is also ludicrous to believe that the US would jeopardise its crucial economic relations with Saudi over this particular murder.

That being said, let’s take a look at the man Khashoggi was, the reasons he met his horrific demise—and why he became media’s favourite overnight.

Jamal Khashoggi apparently was a childhood pal of Osama bin Laden and shared his dream of establishing a global Islamic State—they just differed on its methods.

In fact, Khashoggi grieved the death of his childhood friend too. He was a staunch supporter of Al-Qaeda founder Abdullah Azzam all his life and he advocated shifting the Saudi regime to a more cleric-led society. He actively propagated the idea of a “Muslim Brotherhood” and wanted Saudi Arabia to abandon the US-Israel nexus and join the Muslim Brotherhood’s bond with Hamas for the destruction of Israel.

He was a huge proponent of political Islam. And while Muhammad bin Salman had been critical of Turkey and Qatar’s alliance with extremists, Khashoggi was very pro-Erdoğan-led-Turkey and its alliance with extremists.

Muhammad bin Salman broke ties with Qatar over its support of Hamas and Hezbollah, but Khashoggi criticised the crown prince over this decision and declared on Al-Jazeera that Saudi Arabia should return to its “religious roots”.

Khashoggi was more of an Islamist than ten Mohammed bin Salmans combined—he apparently wished to topple the current kingdom and have it replaced with an even more regressive Wahhabi regime. It was perhaps this disagreement that led to his death.

Why then did none of the mainstream media portals throw light on this purported part of his ideology?

And despite being such a huge supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic extremism, how did he not only get a US Green Card but also get hired by the Washington Post as a columnist?

The reason, perhaps, is that the Left has a monopoly on the media and they found in Khashoggi the voice of oppressed Palestinians and subjugated Islamists.

They, perhaps, thus portrayed him as the reformist, moderate, free-speech-warrior, now apparently killed by the dictator-duo of Trump and Muhammad bin Salman.

If the New York Times and the Washington Post were—and are—so sympathetic towards reformist voices oppressed by Middle-Eastern dictators, isn’t it surprising that Sharif Geber, Raif Badawi, Loujain al-Hathloul and hundreds of journalists who have been, and continue to be, tortured, electrocuted and mutilated on the orders of Erdoğan have found barely any mention?

The redesigning of Khashoggi’s image as that of a journalist and a free-speech martyr is all part of the Left’s alliance with Islamists against the rise of the supposedly fascist Right wing. They seem to have struck gold in Khashoggi’s assassination and are now using the chilling details of the incident to cloud the ideological inclinations of the slain journalist.

Muhammad bin Salman is no angel—he has behaved the same way any totalitarian dictator would, especially in how he has dealt with dissenters wishing to topple his regime. But the steps he has taken in the last few years are revolutionary by Saudi standards. He is creating a rift between politics and religious clerics, something neither the Left, nor Islamist ideologues like Khashoggi desire.

Despite all the regressive ideological inclinations of Khashoggi, this must be said—nobody deserves an inhumane demise like his.

But by making heroes out of people like Khashoggi, the Left has shot itself in its own foot and this is something it would regret. – Daily-O, 25 October 2018

» Omer Ghazi is an Indian blogger who takes special interest in history, philosophy and geopolitics. He co-founded Vicharak, an organisation that spreads awareness about social evils. When he is not writing articles on culture and religion, he enjoys playing the drums and writing rap.

Saudi Condolences


 

Between Moolah and the Mullah – Tufail Ahmad

Saudi banker displays the new one hundred riyal note

Tufail AhmadMuslim community leaders of Kerala know only too well about this rapid radicalisation among the youth, but many of them are in denial. – Tufail Ahmad

The hammer-and-sickle is giving way to the crescent of Islamism in Kerala. This is evident in the headlines, and sometimes between the lines of reports that portend grave dangers for the state, perhaps even the whole country. On 13 September, news surfaced that a baby girl was born to Rifaila, who with her husband Ijaz and son and some two dozen other Keralites had left home to join the ISIS more than a year ago. The baby was born in war-torn Syria—a child of jihad, apparently—far from her parents’ house in Kasargode, north Malabar.

On the same day, it emerged that several of these Malayalees were indoctrinated in jihad by a UK-based couple. Though details are yet to be disclosed, it was Yasmin Ahmad who spilled the beans to Indian intelligence agencies on being questioned following her detention at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Ahmad is the second wife of Abdul Rashid, who had worked at Peace International School at A handout picture released by the King Faisal Foundation on March 1, 2015 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Islam. He founded the Peace TV channel, billed as the world's only channel specialising in comparative religion. Malappuram, run by radical televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO, Islamic Research Foundation. Rashid, along with his first wife and child, is believed to be in Afghanistan.

Muslim community leaders of Kerala know only too well about this rapid radicalisation among the youth, but many of them are in denial.

On 12 September, Ismail Kangarappady, a prayer leader, told a gathering in Kochi, “One cannot even regard the ISIS as an Islamic terrorist outfit. The ideals they propagate have nothing to do with real Islam.” Sharif Melethil, an imam, told worshippers, “Seeking a mysterious paradise is not jihad.”

In Islam, there are two spiritual quests for paradise: one motivates the faithful to live for life after death, while the other often leads Muslims to migrate from non-Muslim lands to Dar-ul-Islam (‘House of Peace’), seen as countries under Islamic rule. During the Hijrat Movement, an offshoot of the 1920s’ Khilafat Movement, Indian Islamic scholars like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Maulana Abdul Bari, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Abdul Majeed Sindhi issued a fatwa (decree) declaring that migration to Dar-ul-Islam from Dar-ul-Harb (‘House of War’) was desirable. As a result, a number of Indian Muslims migrated to Afghanistan, though they found themselves unwelcome there. In recent years, some Muslims of Kerala have been going to Yemen, and also to Sri Lanka, where operatives trained in Yemen have established camps.

“I don’t believe the missing youths from Kerala went to join the Islamic State,” Mujib Rahman, a teacher based in Kozhikode, had said in an interview back in July, when it wasn’t clear where the youths had gone. His hunch was that they had gone to Yemen, rather than Syria to fight alongside ISIS.

Rahman is a former president of the Ithihadu Shubbanil Mujahideen, the student wing of Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM), a Salafist outfit that describes itself as an islaahi (reformist) group with roots in Abul A'la MaududiEgyptian and Saudi religious movements of the late-19th and 20th centuries. Bear in mind, however, that Islamic groups such as the Tablighi Jamaat, Jamaat-e-Islami, ISIS, Taliban and Al-Qaeda all call themselves “reformist” and consider their faith “purer” than that of others.

The KNM has split and reunited many times under the influence of Saudi Arabia-educated members who tend to return with a doctrinal version of Islam that’s at odds with what the group has traditionally preached. While the so-called moderate faction of the KNM has focused on such reforms (in their view) as allowing women into mosques and having the Friday khutba (sermon) in Malayalam, radicalised Saudi returnees have been propagating a kind of Islamic globalism that (among other measures) insists on Arabic for the khutba.

Krishnendhu R. Nath is an NRI based in Malaysia. On 14 June, the eighth day of Ramazan, she was travelling through Kerala’s Muslim-dominated Malappuram district. She felt sick and needed some lime soda. Her husband’s friend went looking from shop to shop along the highway, but was told that since it was the Muslim month of fasting, no refreshment could be sold. Startled by this, she herself went over to confront a shopkeeper. “What is the problem with selling nimbu pani during fasting season? What will travellers like us who have no fasting do?’” According to her Facebook post, the answer she got was: “It is not that we don’t like to. But our shops will be destroyed if we do that.” She got the same response at another shop. “Is this Saudi Arabia?” she exclaimed.

Non-Muslims are aghast at this aggressive display of religious identity in places that have a large Islamic presence. “The Hindu community in Malappuram is now far subdued, far outnumbered by Muslims,” says Vivek Vibha, an architect based in Kochi, observing that assertions of Muslim identity often go with indoctrination and intolerance. Hardliners then tend to gain an upper hand, many of whom manage to foist their thoughts on others and insist on old-fashioned codes of conduct. Ansiba Hassan, a Muslim actor from Kerala, faced abuse from Islamist trolls after she posed for a photograph with Buddhist monks. She was forced to remove the photograph from her Facebook page. Another female actor, Nazriya Nazim, was targeted for not wearing a hijab offscreen. Asif Ali, an actor, was abused for posting a picture from a UK cricket stadium with the caption, ‘The Mecca of Cricket—Lords.’

Professor Kausik Gangopadhyay, who teaches at Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, notes a suddenness to the new religiosity of Muslims in Kerala. “When I moved to Kozhikode in June 2009, this was a far more open city. No shops will close in Ramazan, except for about half-an-hour at iftaar (sundown break of fast),” he says. “Now even the spelling of Ramazan has changed to ‘Ramadan’, the Arabic version. Saudi Arabia has more influence here. It’s a new influence.” Adds Vibha, “The new rise in Islamism in Kerala is due to money from the Middle East.”

The police confirm large inflows of funds from West Asia into Kerala, some of it illegal. Gold, for example, is smuggled in. Notes M. G. S. Narayanan, a renowned historian, “Money is being pumped in to Kerala. Elected governments always knew it, but did nothing about it.” Sajad Ibrahim, an associate professor of Political Science at University of Kerala, explains the phenomenon. “Don’t be under the impression that only Muslims are bringing money from Gulf countries. Christians from Kerala are working as professionals in the Gulf and get lots of money, followed by Hindus, but Muslims working there are in large numbers,” he says. “All NGOs of Muslims in northern Kerala are rich and powerful. Charitable organisations have links with political parties and exercise influence and power over them,” he adds. The situation in Kerala is unstable, he says, as the Popular Front of India (PFI) have been taking control of mosques and the acts of some Muslims under its sway have caused disharmony between Hindus and Muslims.

Tipu SultanOn 8 July, Muslims arriving for namaaz at Nadakkar, in the heart of Kozhikode, made a blatant show of defying civic rules by parking their bikes in the middle of the road in front of a police station opposite the mosque. The police say they were helpless. Some of the tensions date back centuries. The first recorded conflicts involving Muslims in Kerala go back to the time of Vasco da Gama, whose landing near Kozhikode in 1498 CE some believe brought elements of Europe’s Islam-versus-Christianity dynamics to India. However, it was attacks on Malabar in 1771 and 1789 by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan that were turning points for Islamist fervour in the region.“Hyder Ali plundered Hindu temples because there was gold there,” says Narayanan, “This was the beginning of the divide between Hindus and Muslims. And Tipu Sultan’s attacks later worsened this divide, as he gave lands seized from Hindus to new lower-caste converts to Islam.”

Ali Musliyar was a principal leader of the Moplah RebellionAbout a century and a half later, the 1921 Malabar Rebellion of Muslims against the British and Hindus marked Kerala’s lowest point in inter-community relations. Some Kerala historians and Congress politicians of the time have presented it as an agrarian conflict, but the uprising had a religious dimension, one factor being the British efforts to rehabilitate Hindus displaced from their lands in Malabar, which provoked the wrath of Moppila Muslims. A large number of Kerala’s Muslims also supported the Khilafat Movement at the time, points out Narayanan.

In 1992, the Ayodhya issue played a critical role in the further radicalisation of Muslims in a state where they have been financially, socially and even politically better off than those in other parts of India.

As a party, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) wielded considerable clout in Kerala’s previous Congress-led coalition government. Abdul Rabb, an IUML minister, even took the liberty of parading his religious identity and power by renaming Ganga, the bungalow allotted to him, as Grace. The IUML flaunts a secular outlook, but various Islamic organisations thrive under its aegis. Last Ramazan, state-provided mid-day meals for students were stopped in the schools of Kozhikode and Malappuram after some Islamic clerics issued a fatwa against them, but IUML leaders could not oppose them, says Kochi-based lawyer Jaysankar.

Focus in Kozhikode is one of several shopping malls in the state that has prayer rooms for Muslims—separate ones for men and women—but none for Hindus and Christians. This encroachment of Kerala’s secular spaces causes unease among Hindus. A. Vinod, a school teacher in Malappuram, notes that earlier homes had names in Malayalam, but Muslim houses now have them in Arabic. Muslims offering prayers in government offices is also common. “Some places should be secular spaces,” he says, adding that there is no such overt religiosity in areas of Christian influence like Tiruchur and Kottayam. In Western countries, airports have multi-faith prayer rooms but not special ones for Muslims.

In Kerala, the expressions “Sunni Muslim” and “Mujahid Muslim” are heard often. Both belong to the Sunni sect of Islam but “Sunni” here refers to a moderate Muslim, perhaps a peasant, with no hostility to non-Muslims and their lifestyles and religious practices. A “Mujahid”, however, means an unarmed radicalised Muslim who advocates piety, detests local rituals and ways of life, and actively opposes them when possible. At Narikunni, 20 km from Kozhikode, Naveen P. K. had opened a Patanjali ayurvedic shop, but posters for the brand’s products were removed by neo-Mujahid Muslims. Fewer Muslims now come to his shop, he says, adding that even Mujahids secretly send their servants to pick up ayurvedic medicines.

Mujahid Muslims represent what would be known internationally as the Wahhabi-Salafist version of Islam, which Jaysankar says has existed at the level of ideas in Kerala since the 1920s. Mujahids preach a puritan version of Islam and oppose Sufi practices at shrines. These are views held increasingly by the KNM as well, and it is from this corpus of ideas that grew the National Development Front (NDF), a radical Islamist group now known as PFI, which has roots in the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned militant group that broke away from the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Abdul Nazer MahdaniAbdul Nasser Madani is a leader whose name figures in the radicalisation of Muslims. He spent jail terms in the cases of the Coimbatore blasts of 1998 and the Bangalore blasts of 2008. P. Unnikrishnan, a former Vigilance Department officer, says that after the demolition of the Babri mosque on 6 December 1992, Muslim zeal was stoked by fiery speeches made by Madani. “In 1999, we arrested some youths for radical activities who confessed that they were attending evening classes led by disciples of Madani,” he says, adding that it was through him that the Tamil Nadu-based group Al Ummah had links with the NDF, which was once the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which he had launched. Unnikrishnan argues that young men and women joining ISIS is an outcome of Islamist fervour in Kerala. He had arrested Ayub Ilyas Sabir for radical activities, he says, but he was granted bail and escaped to Pakistan. At least four infiltrators killed trying to enter Kashmir from across the LoC have turned out to be of Keralite origin. N. P. Balakrishnan, a former police officer, says that there were many arson attacks in the 1990s on cinemas in Malappuram that were the result of incendiary speeches delivered by Madani against the RSS. Over the years, the PDP was transformed into the NDF, and after assimilating other outfits, into the PFI as it is today—the spearhead of radical activism in Kerala and beyond.

There are also conflicts among Muslims in Kerala which reflect the sectarian schisms found in Islam elsewhere in India and abroad. Sayeed Muhammad, author of many books on Islam, says that both Sunnis and Mujahids—in the Kerala terminology—do not consider Ahmadis and Shias as Muslim. In Kerala society, while there are tombs of Muslim mystics, there is no Sufi movement to counter the radicalisation of Muslims, but some Sufi practices are found among Sunnis. While there might not be formal organisations representing Barelvis, Wahhabis and Ahl-e-Hadeesis (another extreme group), their radical ideas filter through to Malayalee Muslims in general. In this context, the gruesome murder in 1993 of Islamic cleric P. K. Muhammad Abdul Hasan Baqavi aka Maulvi Chekannur—whose body was never found—is an important marker on the state’s timeline of Islamist radicalisation. The maulvi had written a book arguing that everyone, including non-Muslims, could go to heaven by the dint of their good deeds, not faith per se. Salim Haji, an uncle of Maulvi Chekannur and president of the Koran Sunnat Society (KSS), which observes his 29 July death anniversary as anti-terrorism day, says that the cleric’s liberal views provoked orthodox groups which felt that he was against the hadiths, the collected sayings of Prophet Muhammad.

An RSS worker based in Thiruvananthapuram, who asks not to be named, rejects the idea that Hindus should worry about Muslim radicalisation. However, he says, “Although there are no cases of open violence, T. J. Josephthere is apprehension among Hindus…. This means that Muslims become followers of political Islam, [arguing for] the necessity of establishing an Islamic state. They are no longer nationalistic. They create hate against the pagan culture of Hindus,” says the RSS worker, “Radicalisation weans away Muslim youngsters from local society. They are taught to be part of only Muslim society. This introduces puritanical elements and they declare local festivals ‘unIslamic'”.

A move to have a sculpture of Tunjethu Ezhuthachan, an eminent figure of Malayalam literature, installed at his birthplace Tirur had to be abandoned because the local municipality opposed it under Muslim pressure. A plan by the Kerala government in 2012 to install a statue of the legendary Muslim actor Prem Nazir, who has a Guinness Book record for acting in over 700 movies, was also opposed by the Kerala Muslim Jamaah Council on religious grounds. On the campus of Cochin University of Science and Technology, the breasts of a plant figurine had to be pruned over similar protests. Even a bust of Mahatma Gandhi could not be put up in the nearby Union Territory of Lakshadweep, which is about three hours from Kochi, due to opposition from Muslims who are in a majority there.

In 2010, when Professor T. J. Joseph’s hand was chopped off—for the alleged blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad in an exam paper he had set—by goons of the PFI, Christian groups and the Left did not stand up in his support. M. G. Radhakrishnan, editor of Asianet News TV, says the Church and the Left were afraid that showing solidarity with Joseph could antagonise Muslims and worsen Christian-Muslim tensions.

The spiralling influence of moolah and the mullah can’t be missed along the Arabian Sea. – Open Magazine, 29 September 2016

» Tufail Ahmad was as Director of South Asian Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington, D.C. He is now described as a Contributing Editor at Firstpost and Executive Director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi.

Saudi-funded Koran study in a madrasa

See also

Kashmir: Use pellet guns more, not less – Punarvasu Parekh

Narendra Modi & Mehbooba Mufti

JournalistPellet guns are sought to be played down precisely because they worked well and put the fear of God in the heart of troublemakers. … When our country is engaged in a fierce battle to preserve its unity, we cannot allow the adversaries to decide which weapon we should use to fight it. Find out alternatives to pellet guns by all means, place them at the disposal of the armed forces and give them the freedom to choose their option. – Punarvasu Parekh

Modi government’s decisions to use pellet guns only sparingly against perpetrators of violence in Jammu & Kashmir is disappointing. It is symptomatic of the intellectual confusion, moral cowardice and political pusillanimity that have characterized New Delhi’s attitude to this essentially Islamic problem: even when it is winning, it chooses to buckle under the pressure of adversaries who want some respite to regroup and strike again. This follows an old and ominous pattern: every time the security forces manage to gain an upper hand in the beleaguered state, an invisible hand from Delhi reins them in.

Ironically but not surprisingly, pellet guns are sought to be played down precisely because they worked well and put the fear of God in the heart of troublemakers. Poke-marked bodies and blinded eyes suggest that at long last security forces had a weapon that would enhance their confidence while facing the stone pelters and grenade throwers. That is the reason to use the gun more, not less. When our country is engaged in a fierce battle to preserve its unity, we cannot allow the adversaries to decide which weapon we should use to fight it. Find out alternatives to pellet guns by all means, place them at the disposal of the armed forces and give them the freedom to choose their option.

“But why are you so harsh on our own people?” Because they do not behave as our own. Narendra Modi erred when he said that every life lost in J&K—be it an army jawan or a local youth—is a loss to the nation. That may be politically correct rhetoric, but it wrongly equates a soldier making ultimate sacrifice for the motherland with an upstart who has declared a war on the country.

The privilege of soft treatment as citizens and the “Azadi” to attack and kill Indian soldiers, waive Pakistani and IS flags and wish India death cannot be enjoyed simultaneously, even if you happen to be Kashmiri Muslims. If you behave as enemies of India, how do you expect to be treated with kid gloves?

It is no use shying away from the real nature of the current trouble in the valley. What we are up against is not resentment over some local grievances, but a well-orchestrated violent campaign to dismember the J&K Policecountry and create a Muslim state governed by Shariah. In the separatists’ reckoning, this may be the final stage of the battle in which Allah has guaranteed them victory. Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have realized it when he reportedly remarked that the problem is political in nature and could not be solved by ‘development’. Omar Abdullah, the perfidious politician, has seized upon these remarks as a vindication of the stand of all separatists. But he could be in for a nasty surprise. Mr. Modi may have something very different in his mind—let us hope so.

All the calls for “winning the hearts and minds of the people of J&K” have to be viewed against this backdrop. It is a blind alley from which there is no way out. The more you bend, the more will you be asked to bend. Modi government should learn from the experience of Indian National Congress under the leadership of Gandhiji when it sought to win cooperation of Muslims in the struggle for independence. The price of the cooperation went on increasing in direct proportion to the effort mounted to secure it. We all know what it led to.

Modi government is needlessly defensive about the extent of violence in the valley. For one, we are fighting a proxy war to preserve the unity and integrity of our country. Nothing less. We have not courted that war; it has been imposed on us. Preservation of territorial integrity is the birthright of any nation. There is no need to be defensive about it. The world understands it. That is why this time there has been no hectoring from the habitual offenders. As the IS is educating the world about what Islam has in store for non-Muslims and even for Muslim dissidents, the international community positively dislikes the prospect of creation of one more Islamic country in the world.

Yes, the spate of violence in the valley is heartrending. But security forces cannot be blamed for it. The blame must be laid squarely and properly at the doors of those who instigate the impressionable young minds to further their own nefarious designs on the state. If A instigates B to put his hand in fire and B burns his hand, you do not blame fire for it. It is time Modi government provides the necessary political backing to the security forces and takes on those who are out to demoralize them.

Does it mean we should never hold talks with anyone about the problem? No, that is not the argument. Do negotiate, but only when you are in a position to have your way. Guided by Chanakya Chandragupta Maurya did negotiate with Seleucus Nicator, but only when he could demand and secure the territories he wanted. Sardar Patel travelled to Hyderabad to meet the Nizam, but only after the Indian army had put paid to his ambitions of heading an independent state within India. We should discuss new political arrangements with Kashmiri leaders when we are in a position to abrogate Article 370 and fully integrate the state with the rest of India. Till such a situation comes about, we should work for it.

Before this is dismissed as hate mongering and war-mongering, spare a moment to ask what has been achieved by the wise, sagacious, statesmanlike souls who have sought to broker a solution to this vexed problem over the decades. The current conflagration in Kashmir is a blazing testimony to the intellectual, moral and political bankruptcy of homegrown peaceniks of all hues as also of foreign busybodies.

» Punarvasu Parekh is an independent senior journalist in Mumbai.

Kashmir Security Man 2016

Separatism in Kashmir will not be cured by dialogue – Ajay Chrungoo

Kashmiri youth in Srinagar

Dr Ajay ChrungooA de facto Muslim state on the territory of India was bound to move towards religious fascism just like Pakistan. … The present unrest in Kashmir is an expression of a totalitarian stranglehold on the social milieu and political establishment. The unrest is fundamentally regressive in content. It has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with the destruction of freedom. – Dr Ajay Chrungoo

Allowing democratic secular space to promote and perpetuate a regressive fascist political order is the ultimate crime against democracy as well as secularism. In the name of political process this crime has been committed with impunity in Jammu and Kashmir. We have now a situation in Kashmir where religious fascism is expressing itself boldly and brazenly.

What is now being recognised as the radicalisation of the polity is actually continuity. We have seen the progression of an exclusivist religion-based identity movement into an unabashed fascism. In fact, special status, greater autonomy, self-rule, independence, secession to Pakistan or building up of an Islamic caliphate now clearly appear to be stages of an evolving totalitarian religion-based fascist order.

The root cause theories of erosion of autonomy, rigging or bad governance have been actually concoctions of the Indian political class. This class indulged in concoctions to avoid contesting the religion-based identity politics in J&K. They did it so because of a belief that in a Hindu majority country only Hindu communalism has to be fought. They thought all minority communalism is merely a reaction and will be cured automatically if Hindu communalism is contained and defeated.

They forgot that J&K was the only Muslim-majority state in a Hindu-majority country. Its functioning as a healthy secular polity was no less critical than the functioning of the rest of India as a secular polity. It ended up creating a permanent Muslim sphere of interest in J&K. Instead of delegitimising the two-nation theory for all time to come after Partition, they helped to create a special state on the territory of India which was premised on the same principle as the creation of Pakistan.

A de facto Muslim state on the territory of India was bound to move towards religious fascism just like Pakistan. The genocide of Bengalis in undivided Pakistan was the expression of fascism. The genocide of Hindus of Kashmir in J&K is similar. The present unrest is an expression of a totalitarian stranglehold on the social milieu and political establishment. The unrest is fundamentally regressive in content. It has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with the destruction of freedom.

The separatism in Kashmir now needs to be exposed with all its regressive content. The political class must realise that it is not the number of people supporting a movement that makes it sacrosanct but its ideological content that makes it progressive and revolutionary.

Separatism in Kashmir will not be cured by a dialogue but by clear ideological contestation. Fascism is fascism, and it doesn’t matter how many people support it. – Deccan Chronicle, 1 September 2016

» Dr Ajay Chrungoo is chairman of Panun Kashmir

Kashmir Security Force

Muslim clerics in India unite against televangelist Zakir Naik – Uzair Hasan Rizvi

 

Zafir Naik

Uzair Hasan RizviOne of the most powerful Muslim leaders in Bengal, Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, criticised the Muslim televangelist for misleading people and suggested a ban on all his preaching materials in India. “Zakir speaks rubbish,” said Barkati, who is the shahi imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque. “He is only amassing huge wealth. Who is funding him? The government should also investigate this.” – Uzair Hasan Rizvi

Superstar Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik claims to be a messenger of peace and harmony. Through his channel, Peace TV, he broadcasts his messages to around 200 million people across India and the world. Despite this, he has never been able to unite the different branches, sects and sub-sects of Islam in India. One sign of this is the fact that these various groups continued to celebrate Eid on different days earlier this month.

However, Naik seems to have finally united India’s Muslim clerics.

Showing unprecedented solidarity, Muslim clerics from all sects have come forward to urge strong action against Naik and his channel for misinterpreting the Quran and misleading Muslims with his evangelism.

Naik’s Islam is a particularly conservative brand of Salafism, the ultra-conservative reform movement within Islam, which aims to go back to what its proponents call the fundamentals of the faith.

In the aftermath of the July 1 attacks in Dhaka, there were reports that Naik’s provocative speeches had inspired the militants behind the attack in which 20 people, mostly foreigners, were killed. On Sunday, Bangladesh banned Naik’s channel.

Many clerics in India have now demanded a ban on Peace TV, which is broadcast from Dubai. In 2012, the channel was blocked in India after the Intelligence Bureau red-flagged it for broadcasting malicious and so-called anti-national content. However, illegal broadcasts continue and Naik’s sermons are also available online, thus making it hard for the government to limit Naik’s popularity.

Condemnation across the board

In his Eid sermon, one of the most powerful Muslim leaders in Bengal, Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, criticised the Muslim televangelist for misleading people and suggested a ban on all his preaching materials in India. “Zakir speaks rubbish,” said Barkati, who is the shahi imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque. “He is only amassing huge wealth. Who is funding him? The government should also investigate this.”

Clerics from the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam, which gets its name from Bareilly—the town in Uttar Pradesh where it originated from—also accused Naik of delivering anti-Islamic speeches. During his Eid sermon last week, Maulana Asjad Raza Qadri, head cleric of Bareilly, demanded a ban on Naik for his hate speeches, and said that his activities were against Islam and the culture of India.

In the past, Naik has criticised Sufism—the mystical form of Islam that has been present in India for over 1,000 years. The preacher condemned those who revere Sufi saints and visit their tombs as “grave worshippers”.

Last year, members of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board, an organisation of Sufi Muslims, protested at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi after the centre invited Naik for a conference. The members even lodged a complaint against Naik at a local police station, and demanded that he be arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Condemnation from Shias

Naik has also been criticised by the Shias—the second-largest branch of Islam after Sunni Islam.

Shia clerics in Lucknow have accused the televangelist of propagating ideas that attracted Muslim youth to extremism.

Prominent Shia Muslim cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi demanded a complete ban on Naik’s books, speeches and lectures. “Zakir Naik is spreading terrorism,” he said. “Naik is a part of the Saudi Arabia-funded Wahhabi terror network, which creates scholars and clerics who in turn brainwash young Muslims.”

Another Shia cleric, Maulana Yasoob Abbas, led a demonstration against Naik in Lucknow during which Abbas burned Naik’s effigy and labeled him as anti-national and anti-religious. The protestors at this demonstration carried a banner, which read: “Protest Against Terrorism” and carried the photograph of Zakir Naik along with those of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed.

Condemnation from Deobandis

However, the most surprising condemnation comes from the Darul Uloom Deoband, the seat of the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam, which is headquartered in Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. The Deobandis are often referred as the Wahhabis, as they share many of their beliefs with Wahhabism. Darul Uloom has issued a series of fatwas against Naik since 2007.

The Deoband school said that religion should be learned through authorised ulema (Muslim scholars with specialised knowledge of Islamic theology) and books, and added that Naik was a self-styled preacher unaffiliated to any of the four schools of Sunni Islamic thought.

One of the fatwas issued by the Darul Uloom against Naik states that “Zakir Naik is an agent of Ghair Muqallideen, away from knowledge and wisdom from the four schools of thought, spreading mischievous things and misguiding simple Muslims to wrong path”.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, the deputy imam of Lucknow’s Eidgah, had once come to the defence of Zakir Naik. He had said that if Naik had committed a crime, he should be tried under the law, but harassing the man on a big platform was unethical.

However, in 2008, the deputy imam’s uncle, Mufti Abul Irfan Mian Firangi Mahali, issued a fatwa against Zakir Naik describing him as kafir, or disbeliever. Following that, the Lucknow deputy imam also condemned Naik, and referred to him as a fake scholar. Then, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali said in an online statement that: “Naik has just mugged up some verses from the Quran and pretends to be an Islamic scholar.”

Solidarity from Kashmir

The one place in India where Muslim clerics have supported Zakir Naik is in Kashmir, where the Jamaat-I-Islami and Jamiat-ul-Ahlihadees have condemned what they called a campaign by the government and media against Naik.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, members of the Islamic Fraternity, a Muslim youth body, held a demonstration in support of the televangelist at the Press Enclave in Srinagar last week. The report said that the protesters carried banners which read: “Dr Zakir Naik, Kashmir is with you”, “Zakir Naik is a man of peace and harmony” and “Stop false propaganda against Zakir Naik.”

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the leader of the separatist Hurriyat, too recently issued a press statement in favour of Naik in which he said that the preacher was not involved with incidents of terror in Dhaka, Bangladesh, or anywhere else.

With sentiment against him brewing in India, Naik has released a video saying that he did not inspire the Bangladeshi attackers. Incidentally, in the past, he has, on several occasions, denounced the Islamic State, to which the Dhaka terrorists swore allegiance.

However, Naik is undoubtedly an influential Salafi ideologue whose influence has grown in India and around the world over the years. In fact, last year, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented Naik with the King Faisal International Prize for service to Islam, which carried a cash reward $200,000. – Scroll.in, 11 july 2016

» Uzair Hasan Rizvi is an independent multimedia journalist in Lucknow. His Twitter handle is @rizviuzair.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & Zakir Naik

Must read critique of Zakir Naik and his monotheism: Punya Bhumi and the bleak landscape of one god-ism – Vijaya Rajiva

Zakir Naik & Salman Khan

Excusing Muslim terrorists and blaming Hindus – David Frawley

Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)Muslim preachers like Zakir Naik are afforded respect even when teaching intolerance and excusing terrorism. Hindu gurus like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, on the contrary, are criticized and even sued for promoting world peace and the unity of humanity. And this is occurring in Bharat, which is not an Islamic country. – Dr David Frawley

Muslim preachers like Zakir Naik are afforded respect even when teaching intolerance and excusing terrorism. Hindu gurus like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, on the contrary, are criticized and even sued for promoting world peace and the unity of humanity. And this is occurring in Bharat, which is not an Islamic country.

Hindu gurus are kept in jail without bail, made the subject of long court cases, dragging out for years. The media presumes them guilty and does not ask for their release. When their names are eventually cleared, as in the case of Pujya Jayendra Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, no apologies are offered for the derogatory stories published against them.

Hindu Sadhvi Pragya, accused of involvement in a terror attack, can be kept in jail for years without bail, drugged and tortured as a matter of investigation. This would not happen with a mullah or with a priest.

A Hindu politician like Kamlesh Tiwari can be held without bail for allegedly insulting Islam, while those insulting Hindu Dharma are excused or turned into media heroes, like the student protestors from JNU’s communist student union who denigrated Ma Durga—or for preachers like Naik who routinely demean Hindu deities, practices and theology on television shows.

A handout picture released by the King Faisal Foundation on March 1, 2015 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Islam. He founded the Peace TV channel, billed as the world's only channel specialising in comparative religion. Inventing the Idea of Hindu Terror and Excusing Islamic Terrorism

Though there are numerous terrorist attacks by radical Islamists all over the world against various peoples and governments, including in Muslim majority states, Bharat’s media likes to blame Islamic terrorist acts in Bharat on Hindus for oppressing their Muslim minority. It attributes these horrific acts to poverty and discrimination, and will not associate them with Islam as a religion or speak of Islamic terror, in spite of such Muslim preachers as Naik for whom Islamic militancy is a matter of pride. On the contrary, Islam is taught as progressive or egalitarian, as if jihadist violence never had anything to do with it.

When very rare and questionable cases of terrorism are brought against Hindus, these are immediately labeled “saffron” or “Hindu terror”, as if the Hindu religion itself were the cause. The suggestion is that Hindu terrorism is on par with global jihad that has cost the world tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in wars and protective measures. This negative approach continues though there have been no convictions for so-called Hindu terrorism in Bharat, or in any other country in the world, only allegations, while Hindus have frequently suffered from terrorist acts against them.

Hindu Dharma is said to be backward and in need of reform, but not Islam or Christianity. Hindu Dharma is identified with caste, oppression and social injustice, and its progressive and spiritual sides are ignored or belittled. Bharat’s leftist media is hesitant to promote Yoga Day as if Yoga were regressive or communal. While pride in Islam or Christianity is respected, for Hindus to express pride in being Hindus is deemed as communal and intolerant.

Salman bin Abdulaziz al-SaudNeed to Recognize Danger of Global Jihad

Mainstream Islamic countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are among the most intolerant and oppressive nations in the world. While looking at Islamic violence in Bharat, the roots of radical Islam outside of Bharat are not considered, as if there were no connection or communication between them. When the role of Pakistan in Islamic terror is brought out, Bharat’s media likes to blame it on extremist factions in Pakistan, though such radical groups often have government and military support.

ISIS, though it calls itself the Islamic State, is described by the media as following policies that are not Islamic, as if Islam of any sort was not part of its agenda. Yet ISIS follows a similar type of Islam to Wahhabis, whose Saudi-funded madrasas are common in Bharat and seldom regulated. While Saudi has of its own accord destroyed most of the mosques in its own country, Bharat’s media will not report such actions. But if a mosque is damaged in Bharat, great outrage is expressed and Hindus blamed. Destruction and defacement of Hindu temples under Islamic rule was conveniently erased from Bharat’s history books by Marxist historians.

When the current BJP government seeks to address the issue of terrorism, it is criticized for being anti-Muslim and pro-Hindu, though jihadi terrorism is the main global danger today. Meanwhile, a Congress Party leader such as Digvijay Singh can praise intolerant preachers like Naik in public programs and attend a book release on the 26/11 terrorist attack in Bharat for a book that blames this well-documented Pakistan-based jihadi attack on the Hindu RSS!

Zakir Naik & Digvijaya SinghContinuation of Old Anti-Hindu Policies

Such policies of Bharat’s Congress-backed media are nothing new and have been occurring for decades, ever since Nehru and his Congress Party began to rely on an Islamic vote bank. Keeping Muslims afraid and Hindus divided insured an en bloc Muslim vote for Congress and a division of the Hindu vote. Since then many left-oriented political parties have adopted the same vote bank strategy.

Given the dangers posed by global jihad, one would think that these vote bank and appeasement policies would come to an end for the safety of the entire country. But this does not seem to be the case given the political alliances forming for upcoming elections. Fortunately, the Bharatiya electorate is no longer accepting the old anti-Hindu propaganda. – Hindu Post, 9 July 2016

» Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a Vedacharya and includes in his wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient teachings of the oldest Rigveda. Tweet him at @davidfrawleyved.

Jihadis

Exposing Zakir Naik might be a better idea than banning him – T. A. Bharadwaj

Zakir Naik Quote

T. A. BharadwajThe problem with having hate speech laws is that they aren’t designed to fight hate. They just make voicing a hateful opinion illegal. – T. A. Bharadwaj

As per recent revelations, at least two of the seven terrorists, who hacked 20 people to death in Dhaka, were followers of Dr Zakir Naik.

Naik, a controversial Indian Islamic preacher, is extremely popular among a section of middle class urban Muslims. Indian media and the political establishment at large have been clamouring to have him banned and to prosecute him on grounds of hate speech.

I believe this would be a terrible move.

First things first, let me make it clear that I consider myself a free speech fundamentalist, but I’m not enamoured by romantic notions of free speech.

I don’t underestimate the threat of radical Islamism and recognise the capacity of hate preachers to influence impressionable young men to commit heinous acts of violence in the name of religion.

The problem with banning someone like Naik is that it doesn’t really help in dealing with radicalisation.

Watch any of his lectures or debates on YouTube and you will see that not only does Naik draw in huge crowds at his events, but he also has a substantial online audience. His large fan base would seem to suggest that many of his abhorrent views are shared by huge swathes of people.

So, while we may be able to ban him from preaching, how would we deal with millions of his fans who hold similar beliefs? Do we ban them too?

We cannot because ideas cannot be made illegal.

The problem with having hate speech laws is that they aren’t designed to fight hate. They just make voicing a hateful opinion illegal.

Salman RushdieJust because people don’t say things out loud, doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t exist. Salman Rushdie once remarked: “If we give people the freedom to voice their hateful views, at least we can see where the hate is coming from and take it on directly.”

The best way to counter the influence of people like Naik is to expose their ideas, for the regressive, conservative and pre-medieval notions they are. Inviting him to debates on national television instead of banning him, would be a good place to start.

Even if you aren’t convinced by my idea and still think people who preach hate should be banned, Naik is hardly the guiltiest on this count.

In fact, if you look at his most controversial statements, as problematic as they are, they aren’t calls for violence. Zakir Naik is a hardcore fundamentalist and the only way to defeat religious fundamentalists is by critically scrutinising their ideology by pitting them against ideas based on reason.

We need to win over people’s hearts and minds instead of alienating them for their false sense of right and wrong.

The only reason Naik is even in the limelight right now is because two of the Dhaka terrorists were his fans. Banning him with that as the reason would set a dangerous precedent.

It was revealed soon after Osama Bin Laden’s death that he was a fan of Noam Chomsky, among others.

In fact, Chomsky’s critique of American foreign policy makes him a darling among Islamists. Would that be reason enough to ban Chomsky?

Naik’s views are regressive and extremely conservative.

However, Indian media has made him the sole scapegoat of a problem that nobody is willing to acknowledge the depth and severity of.

If we want to mitigate the problem of radicalism, we need to wage a battle of ideas.

Banning one preacher would hardly make a dent in the problem and is bound to create more ill will among the people we should be trying to win over. – Daily-O, 9 July 2016

» T. A. Bharadwaj is a student journalist and philosophy buff.

Zakir Naik : Flat Earth!

Zakir Naik Quote

See also