This Struggle Has Re-awakened Our Imagination

November 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Arundhati Roy

Text of a speech given by Arundhati Roy at the People’s University in Washington Square, NYC on 20 November, 2011.

india-arundhati-at-mike3Tuesday morning, the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back.

The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We’re not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for justice. Justice, not just for the people of the US, but for everybody.

What you have achieved since September 17th, when the Occupy movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language into the heart of empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies, mesmerized into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfillment.

As a writer, let me tell you, this is an immense achievement. And I cannot thank you enough.

We were talking about justice. Today, as we speak, the army of the United States is waging a war of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. US drones are killing civilians in Pakistan and beyond. Tens of thousands of US troops and death squads are moving into Africa. If spending trillions of dollars of your money to administer occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan is not enough, a war against Iran is being talked up.

Ever since the Great Depression, the manufacture of weapons and the export of war have been key ways in which the United States has stimulated its economy. Just recently, under President Obama, the US made a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia – moderate Muslims, right? It hopes to sell thousands of bunker busters to the UAE. It has sold $5 billion-worth of military aircraft to my country, India, which has more poor people than all the poorest countries of Africa put together. All these wars, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Vietnam, Korea, Latin America, have claimed millions of lives — all of them fought to secure the “American way of life”.

Today, we know that the “American way of life” — the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire towards — has resulted in 400 people owning the wealth of half of the population of the United States. It has meant thousands of people being turned out of their homes and their jobs while the US government bailed out banks and corporations — American International Group (AIG) alone was given $182 billion.

The Indian government worships US economic policy. As a result of 20 years of the free market economy, today, 100 of India’s richest people own assets worth one-quarter of the country’s GDP while more than 80% of the people live on less than 50 cents a day. Two hundred and fifty thousand farmers, driven into a spiral of debt death, have committed suicide. We call this progress, and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well-qualified. We have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality.

The good news is that people have had enough and are not going to take it any more. The Occupy movement has joined thousands of other resistance movements all over the world in which the poorest of people are standing up and stopping the richest corporations in their tracks.

Few of us dreamed that we would see you, the people of the United States on our side, trying to do this in the heart of Empire. I don’t know how to communicate the enormity of what this means.

They, the one percent, say that we don’t have demands” perhaps they don’t know, that our anger alone would be enough to destroy them. But here are some things — a few “pre-revolutionary” thoughts I had — for us to think about together:

We want to put a lid on this system that manufactures inequality. We want to put a cap on the unfettered accumulation of wealth and property by individuals as well as corporations. As “cap-ists” and “lid-ites”, we demand:

One, an end to cross-ownership in businesses. For example, weapons manufacturers cannot own TV stations; mining corporations cannot run newspapers; business houses cannot fund universities; drug companies cannot control public health funds.

Two, natural resources and essential infrastructure — water supply, electricity, health, and education — cannot be privatized.

Three, everybody must have the right to shelter, education and healthcare.

Four, the children of the rich cannot inherit their parents’ wealth.

This struggle has re-awakened our imagination. Somewhere along the way, capitalism reduced the idea of justice to mean just “human rights”, and the idea of dreaming of equality became blasphemous. We are not fighting to just tinker with reforming a system that needs to be replaced.

As a cap-ist and a lid-ite, I salute your struggle.

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Pakistan: Islamic Social State

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi (Abdul.Kundi@GMail.Com)

In the West and most of the Muslim world there is a wrong perception that the struggle to establish Caliphate is mandated by the Quran. The reality is far from that. There are many verses in Quran which points to formation of local governments while there are none that mandate a Caliphate. Ummah itself is not a political concept but rather a social one where people from diverse cultures share a set of common spiritual and social values. That is the reason we find common cultural traits in food, clothing, family rituals and celebrations of Muslim countries around the world. Many of Pakistan’s political party’s manifesto include establishment of an Islamic social state. If this is the objective then it is very important to understand what it entails and what the society will look like if we achieved it. We have already covered the Islamic economic model in last article (published on November 2, 2011), this article will focus more on the social aspect of it.

The first order of business to establish an Islamic Social state will be to change the current Westminster form of parliamentary system to an American style Presidential system which is quite close to an Islamic concept. Islam emphasizes election of individuals who then have executive authority to run the state in consultation with a shura comprising of professionals with knowledge of government, administration and law. In Pakistan, we don’t have to write a new constitution rather amendments to existing one will achieve the objective. In Turkey the ruling AKP party in the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it part of their election manifesto that a presidential form of government will be introduced through constitutional amendment. In Pakistan many leading politicians have already expressed their preference for a Presidential system.

Majority of Muslims go to great lengths to tell the world that Islam is the religion of peace. But in reality the essence of Islam is justice. Peace and harmony are the outcome of a just society. Promotion of justice is an active persuasion while peace is more passive approach to society. In an Islamic state introduction of an affordable and efficient system of justice is one of the top priorities of the state. The procedures for the discharge of cases should be such that decisions does not cost so much that people can’t afford it or take so long that it is a hindrance for people to seek justice. Independence of the judiciary is important. State has to ensure that life and property of judges are protected as well as their verdicts are executed without delay.

In an Islamic state the security policy will be oriented towards defensive rather than aggressive posture. This should become corner stone of Pakistan’s foreign policy position to initiate negotiation to sign non-aggression and non-interference bilateral agreements with its neighbors and focus more inward than outward.

Prophet Muhammad (s) in his last hajj sermon to Ummah clearly stated that in an Islamic state there will be no preference given to anyone based on their ethnic identity. Quran makes it clear that God, the ultimate sovereign, does not differentiate based on ethnicity among its creation to bestow its blessings on them. Quran does not mention that punishment of Shirk or Kufar is awarded in this world rather that it is a sin judged on the Day of Judgment which in a way is an opportunity for an individual to find the truth. Quran mentions that people were divided in tribes and nations to be identified rather than discriminated or preferred. In an Islamic social state everyone will be allowed to practice their cultural heritage without any discrimination or hindrance from the state. At the federal level decisions will be taken only considering the well being of the people. In this scenario provinces will be created not on ethnic lines but administrative basis as Islam gives preference to the well being of individual citizens. In the same vane the quota system has to be abolished and only merit should be the basis of all appointments in state and private enterprises. Similarly, Islam recognizes that non-Muslims are full citizens of the state and have the right to practice their faith without recrimination from the State which has to ensure safety of their prayer places.

The very first verse of Quran Iqra was to encourage acquisition of knowledge of life, universe and the spirituality. Islam looks down upon ignorance and mandates that everyone should seek knowledge which means that the state should ensure that adequate educational institutions are available throughout the country. In an Islamic state the religious seminaries will be required to provide education in science and technology. As centers of learning and prayers mosques will be required to hire religious scholars that can provide spiritual enlightenment to the people. These religious scholars should be educated not only in science, social sciences and anthropology but also aware of the spiritual difference between Islam and other religions.

Quran does not differentiate between men and women in terms of their participation in the society. Islam encourages that all members of the society regardless of their gender should participate to establish a just and equitable society. Islam acknowledges that women have much higher responsibility than men because of their critical role in development of a nation as mothers. But this domestic role does not preclude them from pursuing a career to express their talent and exercise their capabilities. In an Islamic state the role of women has to be recognized as full participant. This was evidenced from the lives of Khadija (RA) and Aisha (RA) who took active roles in business and politics respectively.

Many Muslim countries are now realizing the true meaning of a social state and embarking on reformation. Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia are good examples from which other countries can learn. Pakistan seems to be waking up to its true potential as freedom of speech is encouraging debates to create greater understanding of our religion, history and social values at the same time destroying dogmas.

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Come Visit Israel. Before It’s Gone.

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

You’re going to have to hurry.

By Bradley Burston

I have a nephew who’s never seen Israel. I have young cousins, and friends and children of friends, who have never been here, but who have long wanted to come visit.

I want them to come soon. Before it’s all gone.

The Israel I want them to see is dying by the day.

It’s the Israel I saw when I myself once came to visit. A place which had a calm but breathtaking belief in a better future. A place that still had a shot at just that. It was this Israel that convinced me to stay.

This is this Israel that this government, and this parliament, has decided, once and for all, to finish off, precept by democratic precept. As they see it, the sooner, the quieter, and the more permanently, the better.

My nephew is going to have to hurry.

I want him to see what’s left of a place of quietly extraordinary people who dreamed of decency and peace, who envisioned making a place in the world where both we and our immediate neighbors could live together: no longer hated, no longer hating.

It was a place where there was an overriding belief that democracy was sacred, that minority rights should be respected more and more, rather than less and ultimately not at all.

This was the place I came to so many years ago, unfamiliar with its rude clamor and its face-slap smells, the directness of its language and its unfamiliar concepts of personal space.

Foreign. It was a place that believed that affordable housing and quality health care and reasonable living costs and reliable employment should be available to the poor as well as the well-off, to the elderly and infirm and the pre-existing condition, to the Arab as well as the Jew.

I want my nephew to know that there was once a place that his great-grandparents, believers in social justice who had been anarchists in Bialystok and became anarchists in Boyle Heights, could take pride in.

I want him to see it before they kill it. Kill it with settlements. Kill it with privatization and Social Darwinism and the lie they call the free market. Shred by shred, what is good is being drained away, voted away, diluted away in secret, or torn away by force.

Every morning we wake to it. Dreading it. Every morning, a new abomination, an obscene policy proposal, a rabbinical outrage, new plans to expel Palestinians from homes in Jerusalem, new plans to drive Bedouin from homes in the Negev, new steps taken to insult the United States, new ways of threatening a free press, new permits to expand settlements, an endless stream of opaquely worded legislative assaults on democracy, from ravenous middle and back-bench politicians on the make.

Last week, as Israel marked the watershed of the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, I was thinking about the place this could have been. The Israel, for example, that was the promise of the Rabin government.

A government that related seriously to the needs of Israeli Arabs. A government that more than doubled the education budget for all Israeli children. A government that fostered construction of thousands of homes for young couples and families within Israel, that invested millions in depressed outlying towns rather than new settlements, that dramatically expanded ties with the Muslim world, and with developing nations.

I want my nephew to meet my heroes, the people who have made it through wars and tragedy and this government and who still believe in that Israel whose future is one of social justice and peace.

I want my nephew to know that most Israelis believe that settlements do little other than ruin their lives, stain their country, and block the way to peace.

I want my nephew to see that people here have let down their guard and have let the people in power run and ruin their lives. When scouts in the Book of Numbers called this a land that eats away at its inhabitants (13:32), they knew what they were talking about.

I want my nephew to meet my heroes, the people who still believe in the Israel that can endure. Not one big ghetto of a doomed settlement, but one modest jewel of a country. People who hope for good, people who see all people as deserving of respect, safety and freedom, are heroes. And, for the time being at least, they’re still here.

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How India Alienated Kashmir

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aijaz Zaka Syed, Arab News

Kashmir_mapAN unjust law is no law, warned Martin Luther King, the celebrated US human rights icon. The Kashmiris have been living with such laws for decades. At least one in every five Kashmiris has at some point or another in his/her life suffered violence, humiliation, torture and old-fashioned abuse at the hands of security forces without any recourse to justice or a distant promise of retribution.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been a license to abuse, torture and kill the Kashmiris in their own land. A law that confers “special powers” on men in uniform to do as they please and get away with it; a law that the UN says violates “contemporary international human rights standards” and a law that cannot be challenged in any court of law no matter how grave the crime.  

Following the division of the subcontinent in 1947 when India and Pakistan actively courted the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, it was promised a “special status” and special treatment by New Delhi. The Article 370 of Indian Constitution was supposed to protect that “special status” of Kashmir.  We made a lot of other promises as well that are too familiar to revisit here.      

And we have ensured and protected that “special status” of Kashmir by gifting them the AFSPA that offers sweeping powers to the security forces while ensuring their total immunity. This special law has turned the Vale of Kashmir that the Moguls believed was paradise on earth into a beautiful hell.

Is it any wonder then the Kashmiris today find themselves hopelessly alienated and persecuted even as our politicians never tire of pronouncing the state an “integral and inseparable” part of India?
How did we end up here? Who lost the paradise? The answer is out there and everyone knows it. In our desperation and determination to keep Kashmir with us and away from our neighbor, we have ended up losing the Kashmiri people.

Of course, the role played by Pakistani agencies, not to mention groups such as the one led by Hafiz Saeed, who have made a business enterprise of jihad, in adding to the woes of Kashmiris isn’t in anyway insignificant.

But if an entire generation of Kashmiris has grown up loathing all things Indian it is because of the excessive presence of the security forces in the Valley and their heavy-handed approach to the local population. And if there is one thing that epitomizes all that has gone wrong with India’s Kashmir affair, it is the AFSPA. This black law has created a dangerous, ever deepening disconnect and gulf between the Kashmiris and the rest of India. A draconian law that belongs in a police state, not in the world’s largest democracy.

Thanks to these “special powers”, just about anybody could be picked up from anywhere any time, kicked, abused, raped, killed in broad daylight or simply disappeared and no one including the state government can do anything about it.

Security forces are a law unto themselves. And you see their power in full display all across the state including in capital Srinagar. There are more soldiers than tourists or even locals constantly reminding the Kashmiris of the original sin of being born in this land of incredible beauty. Peaceful protests last year saw scores of young people, some of them as young as nine, felled by the bullets of the forces that are supposed to protect them. In the course of fighting terrorists and cross-border infiltrators, we have turned this beautiful land into a permanent war zone and its proud people a hostage in this never-ending conflict with the neighbor. This war has claimed more than a hundred thousand Kashmiris over the past two decades, not to mention the tens of thousands who have gone “missing.”

If the 2,730 unmarked mass graves recently discovered across the state had been found elsewhere they could have shaken the world, as they did in Srebrenica, in Iraq and Rwanda. But they were met with stony silence in the ever-shrill Indian media and its self-righteous Western counterparts.

Human rights groups including the State Human Rights Commission that finally acted on the complaints of thousands of families of “disappeared persons” unearthing graves with hundreds of bullet riddled bodies fear this may be a tip of the iceberg. The dead in Kashmir have finally begun to speak up, as Arundhati Roy so evocatively puts it.  But justice may still elude the victims as long as the AFSPA reigns in Jammu and Kashmir.  And India’s powerful security and defense establishment, including the army, are determined to retain it. And why wouldn’t they? It’s this law that allows the security forces to rule and treat Kashmir as their fiefdom without anyone, including the elected government, questioning their authority and excesses. Despite being a fine and vibrant democracy with robust democratic institutions and judiciary that we can justifiably be proud of, we are yet to realize that no people can be governed at gunpoint. Not in this age and time. Not with black laws like the AFSPA and not by constantly waving half a million guns that have contributed to the alienation of Kashmiri society and radicalization of its youth.  If India is to win Kashmiri hearts and minds, it could do so only with love, compassion, respect and justice.

— Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Middle East-based commentator and can be reached at aijaz.syed@hotmail.com

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On Losing Legal Legend Derrick Bell

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nadia Ahmed

derrickbellOn October 5th, the law lost a monumental American, NYU Visiting Professor Derrick A. Bell. He was 80 years old when carcinoid cancer seized him. While news of his death may have been lost in the headlines because of the demise of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs the same day, Bell’s life deserves commemoration especially among Muslim Americans.

Bell was to social justice and constitutional law what Jobs was to Silicon Valley’s high tech industry and computer innovation. Bell was a rebel before the American Bar Association (ABA) ever began honoring recipients with the distinction of “Legal Rebel.” He was well-known for being the first African-American law professor with full tenure at Harvard Law School, but resigned in protest because of the lack of hiring of women of color. The New York Times reported that at a rally while a student at Harvard Law Barack Obama compared Professor Bell to the civil rights hero Rosa Parks.

At the beginning of his career, Thurgood Marshall recruited Bell to join the NAACP Legal Defense Fund after he left his position with U.S. Department of Justice because of his refusal to end his ties with the NAACP.  In 1966, Bell was named deputy director of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Afterwards, he would start teaching law. 

I had the great fortune of being able to meet Derrick Bell in 2001 as a result of a series of emails back and forth between us. I was supposed to be studying for the LSAT in the summer of 2001, instead I started reading Bell’s books which I saw sitting on the same shelf of the Seminole County Public Library’s Casselberry branch as the LSAT materials: Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protestor and Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism. For someone who is naturally reticent, I resort to writing as a preferred mode of communication. Bell had also taken the time to contribute to my 9/11 anthology, Unveiling the Real Terrorist Mind. He helped me feel comfortable in my own skin.

Looking back to 9/11, Muslims were scared and some even afraid to even leave their homes. Muslim leaders were issuing fatwas for women to remove their headscarves in public out of fear for their safety. I was more astounded and confused by the North American Muslim community’s reaction. This was not the first time our community had come under attack and it surely would not have been the last. For me, 9/11 was a time more than any other to reassert our identities as Muslims.

In Professor Bell, I found someone who had walked the walk. He was also one of the most spiritual persons I had ever known, who had a deep commitment to religious value, an anomaly in higher education, especially within the law.

Initially, when I heard of his death, I was saddened, but at the same time I felt reawakened and reenergized. I remembered one of those occasions when I had to the chance to sit in on his class. On the blistering cold afternoon of February 4, 2002, I trotted up to the NYU Law school building and was told that I could not enter the building because my name was not on the list of approved visitors for that day. From my days in journalism, I knew how to slip by security. I walked slowly toward the side exit door and when the guard was distracted by other visitors, I darted up the stairs to find the Secret Service central because unknown to me President Bill Clinton was giving a talk at NYU Law that afternoon. The speech had just concluded so I stood on the side of the hallway as President Clinton walked by and greeted students. When I finally got to Professor Bell’s class, I heard some of the students joking that they had “gotten their tuition’s worth” because they “got to meet President Clinton.” I laughed inside that I, too, had been able to meet the President without the exorbitant cost of paying NYU Law tuition.

When I was accepted to the University of Florida Levin College of Law a few months later and somewhat hesitant to attend, Professor Bell encouraged me by saying that the battlegrounds for social justice and civil rights are in the South, but warned me that the racism only worsens the further I progress in my life in the law. My law school days and the year or so after I was admitted to the Florida Bar were pure and utter whatever.

In 2007, Professor Bell had mailed me a copy of his book, Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth.  And it is that book that serves as my blueprint for surmounting obstacles and advancing where life leads.

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“Arrest Bush” — Amnesty International Asks Canada

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Michel Comte

October 13, 2011 “AFP” – Amnesty International called on Canadian authorities Wednesday to arrest and prosecute George W. Bush, saying the former US president authorized “torture” when he directed the US-led war on terror.

Bush is expected to attend an economic summit in Surrey in Canada’s westernmost British Columbia province on October 20.

In a memorandum submitted last month to Canada’s attorney general but only now released to the media, the London-based group charged that Bush has legal responsibility for a series of human rights violations.

“Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former president Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture,” Amnesty’s Susan Lee said in a statement.

“As the US authorities have, so far, failed to bring former president Bush to justice, the international community must step in. A failure by Canada to take action during his visit would violate the UN Convention Against Torture and demonstrate contempt for fundamental human rights,” Lee said.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney blasted Amnesty for “cherry picking cases to publicize, based on ideology.”

“This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International,” he said.

Kenney said it will be up to Canadian border officials to decide independently whether to allow Bush into the country.

Bush canceled a visit to Switzerland in February, after facing similar public calls for his arrest.

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International’s Canadian branch, told a press conference the rights group will pursue its case against the former US president with the governments of other countries he might visit.

“Torturers must face justice and their crimes are so egregious that the responsibility for ensuring justice is shared by all nations,” Neve said.

“Friend or foe, extraordinary or very ordinary times, most or least powerful nation, faced with concerns about terrorism or any other threat, torture must be stopped.

“Bringing to justice the people responsible for torture is central to that goal. It is the law… And no one, including the man who served as president of the world’s most powerful nation for eight years can be allowed to stand above that law.”

Amnesty, backed by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, claims Bush authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and “waterboarding” on detainees held in secret by the Central Intelligence Agency between 2002 and 2009.

The detention program included “torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (such as being forced to stay for hours in painful positions and sleep deprivation), and enforced disappearances,” it alleged.

Amnesty’s case, outlined in its 1,000-page memorandum, relies on the public record, US documents obtained through access to information requests, Bush’s own memoir and a Red Cross report critical of the US’s war on terror policies.

Amnesty cites several instances of alleged torture of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval facility, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, by the US military.

The cases include that of Zayn al Abidin Muhammed Husayn (known as Abu Zubaydah) and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, both arrested in Pakistan. The two men were waterboarded 266 times between them from 2002 to 2003, according to the CIA inspector general, cited by Amnesty.

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New Initiatives: “The Muslim Element”

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi, TMO

BLACK_AND_WHITE_Aqeela_NaqviAs the times progress and technology develops, different and new ways are being found to accomplish age-old goals. From teaching children their A-B-C’s, to distance education, to social interaction—the amount of new and innovative means to accomplish these ends are innumerable. Everyone is looking for less traditional, and more creative ways to cater to society’s interests, in particular, those of the youth.

A group of youth from New Jersey has identified with and understood this phenomenon, and has undertaken the task of using newer, more creative technology to develop a positive sense of brotherhood between Muslim youth, as well as youth of other religious and cultural backgrounds. “The Muslim Element” (The Mu for short), as they call themselves, is an initiative founded in 2010 to provide products that express their religious as well as universal humanitarian beliefs. They are currently focused on providing clothing that embodies various messages, the goal being to positively affect the lives of youth by allowing them to connect to their religion through the use of a more creative and modern medium. The Mu garners no profit from their sales: every penny generated by the organization is used either for the creation of new products and t-shirts, or is given back to the community in the form of charitable donations or sponsorship of events at local Islamic centers.

Muslim_ElementThe Muslim Element has developed three products thus far, one of which being a “Freedom” t-shirt, sold in early 2011, when revolutions were sparking across the Islamic world. This shirt helped to get youth involved in promoting the idea of freedom and justice in a more innovative and creative manner than before. Even if they could not physically attend rallies to demand freedom for those innocents being oppressed in countries across the world, they could display their support of justice and truth to everyone they met through the clothing they wore.

Initiatives such as these are necessary for reaching out to new generations of youth. The Muslim Element supports the enlightenment of Muslims—especially the younger generation living in the West—and aims to show them through messages embodied in clothing that they should take pride in who they are and the beautiful messages of truth and justice, propagated by the religion they believe in. In this way, says their mission statement, they hope to help the youth to “remain vigilant in understanding their faith and their humanity, develop an awareness of relatable and current topics in the world, and actively propagate truths and dispel misconceptions about the beautiful religion of Islam.”

More information about this initiative, as well as vending information for your local center, can be found online at: www.facebook.com/TheMuslimElement

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Study: Kashmir Mass Graves Hold Thousands

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Lydia Polgreen

Kashmir-ProtestsNEW DELHI — Thousands of bullet-riddled bodies are buried in dozens of unmarked graves across Kashmir, a state human rights commission inquiry has concluded, many of them likely to be those of civilians who disappeared more than a decade ago in a brutal insurgency.

The inquiry, the result of three years of investigative work by senior police officers working for the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, brings the first official acknowledgment that civilians might have been buried in mass graves in Kashmir, a region claimed by both India and Pakistan where insurgents waged a bloody battle for independence in the early 1990s. The report sheds new light on a grim chapter in the history of the troubled region and confirms a 2008 report by a Kashmiri human rights organization that found hundreds of bodies buried in the Kashmir Valley.

Tens of thousands of people died in the insurgency, which began in 1989 and was partly fueled by weapons, cash and training from Pakistan.

According to the report, the bodies of hundreds of men described as unidentified militants were buried in unmarked graves. But of the more than 2,000 bodies, 574 were identified as local residents.
“There is every probability that these unidentified dead bodies buried in various unmarked graves at 38 places of North Kashmir may contain the dead bodies of enforced disappearances,” the report said.

The report catalogs 2,156 bodies found in graves in four districts of Kashmir that had been at the heart of the insurgency. It called for a thorough inquiry and a collection of DNA evidence to identify the dead, and, for the future, proper identification of anyone killed by security forces in Kashmir to avoid abuse of special laws shielding the military from prosecution there.

Thousands of people, mostly young men, have disappeared in Kashmir.

Some went to be trained as militants in the Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir and were killed in the fighting. Many others were detained by Indian security forces. The wives they left behind are known as half-widows, because the fates of their husbands are unknown. Parents keep vigil for sons who were arrested two decades ago.

Parveena Ahanger’s son Javed was taken away by the police on Aug. 18, 1990, and never seen again. An investigation found that he had been killed by security forces, but they have not been prosecuted, she said.

“I never got any response from the government,” she said. “I never got his dead body.”

After years of fighting in the courts to find out what happened to Javed, Ms. Ahanger was skeptical that the human rights report would get her son’s body back, or bring her justice.
“If the high court doesn’t give any justice on this issue, what will the state human rights commission do?” she said.

Zahoor Wani, an activist who works with the families of people who disappeared during the insurgency, said that the report was a welcome first step but that the government must identify the dead and allow families to bury their relatives.

“It is a very good thing that they acknowledge it,” Mr. Wani said.

“These families have been living in a hope to see these people again.

“They are neither dead nor alive,” he said. “We need to move them to one pole or the other.”

Hari Kumar contributed reporting.

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Peace Eludes Kashmir: Who Is At Fault?

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, TMO

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: The brief phase of apparent peace in Jammu and Kashmir has been shattered once again by what has been described by critics as “state-terrorism.” The recent weeks have been marked by several suspect-terrorists having been killed in what have been labelled as “fake encounters” and the custodial death of Nasin Rashid (28) in Sopore district, Baramulla district. Rashid’s death provoked Kashmiris to take to streets demanding justice and prompted several Kashmiri leaders to strongly voice their protest against it. 

The Indian troops claimed to have killed five suspect militants, three of whom were killed at Rajwar in Handwara and two in Surankote area of Poonch. They were, according to Indian troops, killed as they tried to cross the Line-of-Control. The Kashmiri leaders have, however, blamed the troops for having “martyred” the five in an act of “state-terrorism.” Even before this issue has settled down, an actual “fake-encounter” has raised questions on credibility of the earlier claims made by Indian troops. A preliminary probe has reportedly revealed that a man killed in an alleged 12-hour gun battle with an army unit was not a suspect militant, but a mentally unstable civilian.

Initially, a high-ranking officer had briefed the media (Aug 7) that the “militant” killed was Abdu Usman, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s “divisional commander.” The officer also claimed recovery of a pistol and other materials from his possession. Ironically, before this “news” had created any waves, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah accepted that the “encounter” in which the individual was killed may not have been real.

“We are still enquiring into the exact circumstances as to what happened. Preliminary information suggests to us that a local Territorial Army fellow and an SPO (Special Police Officer) had conspired to inform the local army unit about the presence of the foreign militant in Pooch,” Abdullah said. “Subsequently, information came to light that that the person is not who (that is a ‘suspect militant’) the Territorial Army and the SPO claimed him to be,” he said.

The “accused,” according to Abdullah, “have been charged under section 302 amounting to murder and we will ensure that the law follows its own course.” The accused, include SPO Abdul Majid and Territorial Army soldier Noor Hussain. While the SPO’s intention, through this “encounter,” was to be regularized as a constable, the soldier wanted a cash reward of Rs 200,000.

Amazingly, this is one of the rarest of rare “fake encounters,” which on the basis of a preliminary probe has been promptly acknowledged as one, with the state chief minister himself saying so. Over the past three years, at least 14 cases of fake encounter in Kashmir have been reported and registered by India’s National Human Rights Commission. And this raises the pertinent question: Who is to be blamed for grievances afflicting Indian Kashmiris?

Speaking at a seminar in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra said: “A major problem facing the country today is the nexus between political hierarchy, mafia and bureaucracy. All elements of government are tainted and now fingers are being pointed towards the armed forces.” Taking note that the Police Act was 150 years old, Vohra said: “We need to reform every part and parcel of the government including police for providing justice to the people.”

Vohra’s tacit acceptance that people were being denied justice was referred to from a different angle by former Chief Justice of Orissa High Court Justice Bilal Nazki at the seminar (Aug 8). He raised the question: “In Kashmir there are many cases of alleged excesses committed by the police and at the same time police is investigating them. How can anybody expect fair investigation from the accused?” “Once the crime takes place there should be no business of police to meddle in investigations. Police cannot handle everything from law and order to security to the investigation,” Nazki said.

Undeniably, Kashmiris have suffered for long at the hands of law and order system in their terrain. The army and police are expected to ensure security for the Kashmiris. But instead, they have been trigger-free while targeting Kashmiris, particularly Muslims. In recent years, thanks to communication revolution, “reports” on fake encounters accusing Kashmiris (particularly Muslims) as “terrorists” have started hitting headlines. The Indian media has also woken up to not easily accepting claims made by officers about several “terrorists” being killed in certain encounters. Earlier, their prevailed the tendency to virtually accept whatever was said at press conferences, after such “encounters” as the final word, without examining the credibility of such claims and not considering the option of giving “suspect terrorists” a chance to prove their innocence.

Despite the media and people having woken up to the hard reality that “peace” and “security” continues to elude Kashmiris as innocent persons are still being targeted by state-controlled bullets, the concerned authorities have not yet taken any major step to solve this problem. Irrespective of whatever claims that India makes about its commitment to the Kashmir-issue, peace shall elude problem-ridden region, till adequate attention is paid to address grievances faced by Kashmiris!

13-33

A Successful Fundraiser for Carlos Montes

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The fight for justice never stops nor does it seem to ever be able to rest. Human rights activists are under siege for their work, and funds for defense and publicity for their cause are a constant need.

A successful fundraiser was held this past Sunday in Los Angeles to raise money for the defense of human rights activist and Palestinian supporter, Carlos Montes. The Los Angeles Committee to Stop FBI Repression was the sponsor. Beautiful artwork was sold as part of the plan to raise funds.

Mr. Montes was arrested in his home on May 17th by agents of the FBI and a Los Angeles SWAT team. The use of trumped up fire arms charges – the pretext for the arrest – was not merely an excuse to arrest Mr. Montes; it was an attempt to harass and intimidate anti war and Palestinian activists across the nation. Mr. Montes was simply the target in Los Angeles.

In a Muslim Observer article posted March 10 of this year, Mr. Montes and Chicago Palestinian activist, Hatem Abudayyeh, detailed the plight of 23 activists in the mid west who were at the time under subpoena for their work against the wars and for Palestinian independence. Mr. Abudayyeh was on tour in Southern California to present the case to the media and concerned organizations.

In response to this miscarriage of justice, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression was formed, and local committees have grown out of it. Mr. Montes is active in the Los Angeles branch.

Mr. Montes is the Los Angeles target for his outspoken and dedicated work not only against the wars and against the repression of Palestinians, but also for his work with the Immigrant Solidarity Network. He has also spoken out against the policy of the United States vis a vis Columbia.

The Los Angeles Committee to Stop FBI Repression has made three demands: 1) Drop the trumped up charges against Mr. Montes; 2) return all confiscated material obtained during his arrest; 3) Stop the FBI harassment of antiwar and human rights activists throughout the country.

Mr. Montes’ next court date is August 12.

For more information about Mr. Montes and the work of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, please access: www.fightbacknews.org.

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Shariah 101

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Enver Masud

Shariah-Council-Logo-green-star-with-logo-copy2-1-300x300The definition of justice, according to Dr. Robert D. Crane, founder of the Center for Civilizational Renewal, is respect for human rights, which were formulated six centuries ago by Islamic scholars. These rights, says Dr. Crane, are: “the right to life and personal integrity (haqq al haya), to family and community existence and cohesion at all levels of human society (haqq al nasi), to equal opportunities in accessing ownership of the means of economic production (haqq al mal), to political freedom for self-determination both within and among nations (haqq al hurriyah), to human dignity (haqq al karama, including freedom of religion and gender equity), and to education, knowledge, and freedom of expression (haqq al ilm).”

Regarding separation of Church and State, according to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of Islam, a Sacred Law, Islamic jurists recognized this concept centuries before the Europeans, and divided the body of Shariah rules into two categories: religious observances and worldly matters. The first they observed to be beyond the scope of modification. The second, subject to interpretation, cover the following:

1. Criminal Law: This includes crimes such as murder, larceny, fornication, drinking alcohol, libel. 2. Family Law: This . . . covers marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody, inheritance. 3. Transactions: This covers property rights, contracts, rules of sale, hire, gift, loans and debts, deposits, partnerships, and damages.

“One of the most sensible definitions of the purposes of the Shariah,” according to Imam Feisal, was given by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah who said:

“The foundation of the Shariah is wisdom and the safeguarding of people’s interests in this world and the next. In its entirety it is justice, mercy and wisdom. Every rule which transcends justice to tyranny, mercy to its opposite, the good to the evil, and wisdom to triviality does not belong to the Shariah . . .”

According to Imam Feisal the sources of Shariah are, in order:   1. The Quran – God’s Word revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s); 2. The Sunnah – practice and teachings of the Prophet; 3. Ijma – consensus of those in authority; 4. Qiyas – reason, logic, and opinion based upon analogy.

Imam Feisal describes seven other methods for deriving Islamic laws. These seven, plus ijma and qiyas, are collectively known as ijtihad or interpretation, and/or opinion based upon reason and logic.
Several schools of Shariah have evolved: Shafii, Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki – the orthodox schools, and Jafari – the Shiite school. The Zaydis and Ibadis also have their own schools.

“Classical international law, reputedly invented by the Spaniards Vittorio and Suarez, borrowed the concept of inalienable human rights from Islamic law,” according to Dr. Crane.

Wisely implemented, Shariah can better nurture and protect society than does Western law which is subject to the whims of lawmakers.

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FBI Allegedly Detains Dr. Gulam Nabi Fai

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

South Asian News Agency (SANA)

Washington (SANA): Executive Director Kashmir American Council/Centre

aaaapicture-2Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai has allegedly charged and arrested by FBI in Washington. He has arrested on the eve of American foreign Minster Harley Clinton’s visit to India. The political leadership of Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and IHK strongly condemn over the arrest of Dr. Gulam Nabi Fai.

US justice officials charged and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested Dr. Gulam Nabi Fai 62, a US citizen on Tuesday over a decades-long effort to push the Kashmiri cause in Washington. The Justice Department said he faced up to five years in prison if found guilty.

“Foreign governments who try to influence the United States by using unregistered agents threaten our national security,” alleged FBI Assistant Director in Charge James McJunkin.

The council, based in Washington and headed by Fai, is “actually run” by elements of the Pakistani government, the Justice Department alleged in a statement.

Fai was arrested Tuesday morning and expected to appear before Thursday at a court in Alexandria, near the US capital, to hear the charges.

The political leadership of the Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and Indian Held Kashmir has strongly condemned over the arrest of Dr. Gulam Nabi Fai and demanded of immediately released him without any condition.

Raja Zulqarneen Haider the president of Azad Kashmir, Fazlur Rahman, Chairman Kashmir Committee, former Ameer-e-Jamaat Islami Pakistan Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Secretary General JI Liaqat Baloch, Ameer-e-JI Azad Kashmir Abdur Rasheed Turabi, Raja Zafrul Haq leader of PMLN and other has strongly condemn over the arrest of Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai and called it as a conspiracy against the freedom movement of Kashmiri people.

13-30

Flotilla Passengers Today’s Freedom Riders

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Truthout Staff / Editorial

2011-07-06T154320Z_1949210057_GM1E7761TVR01_RTRMADP_3_GREECE-FLOTILLA

An activist gestures on board the boat “Juliano”, part of a Gaza-bound flotilla, as it departs from Perama port near Athens for a town on the southern Greek coast July 6, 2011. Activists, whose flotilla to challenge an Israeli blockade on Gaza has been confined to Greek ports, vowed on Tuesday to complete their mission but accused Athens of being deaf to appeals to let their ships go. The Juliano will make another attempt to leave Greece on Wednesday, according to activists.

REUTERS/John Kolesidis

It has been widely reported that 25 percent of the activists on the US boat that was to sail in the Gaza flotilla are Jewish. Six of those 35 activists are Truthout friends, many of long date: Chairman of the Truthout Board Robert Naiman and contributing authors Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, Gabriel Schivone and boat leader Ann Wright. Knowing that these friends are putting their lives on the line for what they believe in fills us with pride and anxiety. Our hearts are locked up with their boldly christened boat, The Audacity of Hope.

Some progressives – as well as the Obama State Department see their principled action as a provocation, and Israeli hasbara (propaganda) has pulled out all the stops to portray the flotilla members as friends of terrorists or useful idiots. We know our friends well enough to have complete confidence in their ethos of nonviolence and their acute and worldly intelligence, which would never allow itself to be exploited for ends they did not endorse. Their action is provocative, just as were those of the freedom riders in the 1960’s, designed to show the world that the law is not being enforced – in the present case, international law, which gives Israel neither the right to police Gazan waters nor to prevent that territory – at present arguably the world’s largest prison – from exporting its produce and importing essential supplies.

As of this writing, French ships from the flotilla were in international waters heading for Gaza, The Audacity of Hope is locked up in a boat jail, paralleling the situation of the people of Gaza, and other boats are stuck in Greek port or sabotaged. Some of our friends were detained Sunday for conducting a hunger strike in front of the American embassy in Athens, and again yesterday for sitting on a bench opposite the American ambassador’s residence. The captain of the boat – after having been detained in squalor and charged with endangering the safety of the passengers – has been released on his own recognizance. Everyone is reportedly exhausted, but safe, with some planning to return to the United States in the next two days and others later.

While Israel and the United States may have successfully sabotaged and thwarted the flotilla from reaching its intended destination without a public relations disaster as catastrophic as last year’s armed boarding of the Mavi Marmara and the murder of passengers, including 19-year-old American citizen Furkan Dogan, Israel can “win” this confrontation only by lifting its illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza. For, as Matthew Fox wrote in “Original Blessing,”

Political movements for justice are part of the fuller development of the cosmos, and nature is the matrix in which humans come to their self-awareness and their awareness of their power to transform. Liberation movements are a fuller development of the cosmos’ sense of harmony, balance, justice and celebration. This is why true spiritual liberation demands rituals of cosmic celebration and healing, which will in turn culminate in personal transformation and liberation.

With extraordinary grace and courage, our friends have participated in such a ritual, and whatever the fate of The Audacity of Hope and the other boats of this year’s Gaza flotilla, they – and those who hear their stories – will return transformed and liberated, will have bent that long arc of the universe just a little bit tighter towards justice for the people of Gaza – and us all.

13-28

Community News (V13-I27)

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Hamid Khan named Soros Justice Fellow

picNEW YORK,NY–The Open Society Foundations this week announced an award of $1.6 million to an outstanding group of advocates, journalists, lawyers, grassroots organizers, and filmmakers working on a range of vital criminal justice reform issues at the local, state, and national levels.

The 2011 Soros Justice Fellows, who hail from 14 different states and Washington, D.C., will explore a wide array of issues, including prosecutorial misconduct, federal immigration enforcement, and the harsh treatment of youth. Among the fellows is Hamid Khan who in  collaboration with a diverse cross-section of individuals and groups, Khan will challenge Los Angeles Police Department surveillance and profiling practices that criminalize benign and legal activity, normalize racial profiling, and render people in certain communities as criminal suspects.

Khan has a long-standing and deep commitment to social justice for marginalized communities in Southern California. As founder and executive director of the South Asian Network, Khan helped to create the first community-based organization dedicated to informing and empowering South Asians in Southern California. He sits on the boards of various organizations, including the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Generation FIVE, and is a founding member of the Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance and the Allies Collective. In 2010, he was selected by the Liberty Hill Foundation as one of six Grassroots Leaders to Watch.

Arif Khan named curator of Clay Centre

CHARLESTON, W.Va–Arif Khan has been named the Clay Center.

Clay Center President and CEO Judy Wellington said there were about 25 applicants, 10 of whom were interviewed initially online through Skype. Three were chosen for face-to-face meetings before the final selection was made.

Wellington said, “Arif comes from a good background. He’s very smart and enthusiastic about the challenge of integrating arts and science, which he has some experience doing in his current position.”
Khan is serving as gallery director of the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. He curates all exhibits in Tamarind’s gallery. His duties have also included fundraising and organizing, attending and installing exhibitions at art fairs through the country.

“He’s familiar with a number of galleries around the country,” Wellington said. “We think that’s a real asset.”

Khan has a master’s in art business from Sotheby’s Institute of London and a master’s in American studies from the University of New Mexico, where he also minored in art history. He also has a foundation certificate in art law from London’s Institute of Art and Law.

13-27

Remembering “Brother Hodari”

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

MANA Press Release

hodari1Hodari Abdul-Ali or, “Brother Hodari,” as he was widely known; had a long history of activism and social commitment.  His contributions were highly respected; and he was well-recognized as a social justice activist, journalist, media personality, a pioneer purveyor of Islamic, African and African American literature and as a businessman.  Brother Hodari was particularly beloved in the Washington, D.C. area of the United States, where a large event in his honor was held on April 23rd.

As a member of the MANA Shura, he was dear to us because of his warm and deeply caring personality, love for Allah (Glory be to Him) and His Messenger (peace be upon him), his commitment to social justice, and his love for his people. It was because of these qualities that Hodari was asked to serve as both the Chairman of the MANA Social Justice Task Force and as a primary representative of MANA in the Washington, D.C. area.

He was dear to us because of his warm and deeply caring personality And his love for Allah and His Messenger (s).

Although we understand that illness is all too human, and that to bear it with faith is one of the characteristics of a believer, we were shocked to learn of our brother’s suffering from the effects of prostate cancer. Over the past two years, he slowly succumbed to the disease which claims the lives of too many African American men; and yet, he kept it a secret from all but his immediate family. We ask Allah to forgive his sins multiplied by each hour of each day that he bore his fate with faith and dignity, and to reward our beloved brother, Hodari with Jannah (Paradise).

Brother Hodari’s janaaza prayer, held on the 28 Jumada Al-Awwal 1432 (May 2, 2011) was attended by several hundred believers. Among those present from the MANA family were Deputy Amir Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, Imam Mohammed Magid, brothers Jihad Abdul-Mu’mit, Altaf Hussain, Jameel Johnson, Johari Abdul-Malik, Tariq Nelson. Our brother Mahdi Bray (MAS Freedom Foundation), who continues to recuperate from the stroke he suffered last year, Alhamdulillah, was present; as was our brother Nihad Awad of CAIR National.

One can only imagine the degree of financial hardship that Brother Hodari’s family has endured over the past two years. Our Prophet Muhammad (s), taught us that “Whoever relieves the stress of a believer will have his (or her) stress relieved.” Therefore, we strongly encourage all members of MANA to aid Brother Hodari’s widow, Sister Ayanna, and his family by sending a secure monetary donation to them via PayPal.  Details on how to make a donation are below.

Brother Hodari was particularly beloved in the Washington, D.C. area. Brother Hodari bore his suffering with faith and dignity… May Allah reward him with Paradise. We strongly encourage all members of MANA to give financial support to Brother Hodari’s widow.

Please continue our support of Hodari by making a financial contribution to help his family to defray costs. You can make a secure donation via PayPal. Go to www.PayPal.com. Click on “send money.” Enter in the amount of your contribution, and then the following email for the payee account: sadiq.akmal@gmail.com. The funds will be sent safely and securely and will be used for his burial and to assist his widow and their family needs.

13-20

Bin Laden: Obama Snatches Defeat from Jaws of Victory

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Yvonne Ridley

As the news of Osama bin Laden’s death filtered out onto the streets of America it triggered unsightly scenes of undiluted hysteria, chest-thumping and back-slapping which has sadly become a trademark of the vengeful ‘hang’em high’ lobby that emerged from the rubble of 9/11.

And just like George W Bush did on that horrific day way back in 2001, US President Barack Obama unashamedly wallowed in a flag-waving, nationalistic wave of emotion, crowing about national unity and everyone pulling together as he revealed the manhunt for the world’s most wanted man had finally been concluded.

It mattered not the al-Qaida leader was unarmed – that detail was kept back as hugely distorted stories zoomed around the globe about how the evil Arab used his wife as a human shield while firing off rounds at the heroic soldiers who risked their all for Uncle Sam.

The naked display of uncontrollable gung-ho emotion was bad enough but then a smug-looking Obama began sounding like Glenn Ford in a scene from High Noon as he lectured the world about “justice being done”.

To quote my favourite journalist Gary Younge: “This was not justice, it was an extra-judicial execution. If you shoot a man twice in the head you do not find him guilty. You find him dead. This was revenge. And it was served very cold indeed.”

Mercifully, in this sea of madness another sane voice in America also drowned out the hate-filled chorus and it came from an unlikely source – 9/11 survivor Harry Waizer.
If anyone had a right to jump up and down like a lunatic at the show of a full moon it was him, but instead of adding to the hatefest he said: “I just can’t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama Bin Laden.”

I hope now that America’s Number One Bogeyman is no more the USA returns to some semblance of normality that has been absent from its landscape since the now discredited War on Terror began.
And I hope that the US Administration will stop using the politics of fear on its own people who have been ruthlessly hyped up in to a state of advanced paranoia at every opportunity. High days and holidays have been blighted by accelerated levels of terror alerts while the latest airport scares and the latest suspect parcels have brought major cities and their transport networks to a halt.

While it is always dangerous to generalize the American people appear to have been kept suspended in fear ever since 9/11 – the reality is ordinary citizens have more chance of being shot in their backyard than be killed by a terrorist.

30,000 innocents die every year in gun-related crime – that’s a 9/11 multiplied by ten – but the close relationship with deadly weapons shows no sign of abating in trigger-happy America.

In terms of a violent society and armed citizens, the US is in a league of its own and sadly the state of disregard for the law and justice filters all the way down from The White House.

That the most powerful man in the world can stare straight into the cameras and say: “Justice was done” over Bin Laden’s murder borders on absurdity; it’s almost Pythonesque.

Real justice would have involved an arrest, a trial by jury and a sentence in an international court should the thought of holding him on USA soil prove too frightening.

Real justice would not have involved shooting an unarmed man in front of his wife and children – there were no bodyguards in the house in Abbottabad in Pakistan.

Real justice would not have involved charging into someone else’s country with armed forces unannounced, if indeed that was really the case in Pakistan.

I’m surprised David Cameron, the British Prime Minister and other political leaders went into congratulatory mode in the House of Commons over the whole saga.

Had it not occurred to them that if OBL had chosen to hide out in Didsbury, Tooting or Chipping Norton then US Special Forces would have come into the UK all guns blazing?

I wonder, would Cameron have gushed forth with undiluted praise then?

We don’t know who America’s next Bogeyman is going to be, but what if he does live in Britain or chooses to hide in the UK? What then? Do we sit back and allow America to breach our sovereignty in the name of US justice?

Are there any real guarantees that we won’t have US Navy Seals bursting into our neighbourhoods anytime soon?

OK, it’s highly unlikely but not impossible. This is what happens when there’s total disregard for international law, Vienna and Geneva conventions et al.

Distinguished QC Geoffrey Robertson is a man I’d like to lock in the Oval Office with the Commander in Chief for maybe 30 minutes. A renowned international human rights lawyer, he is not at all impressed by Obama’s interpretation of justice.

Writing about the OBL killing he said the law “permits criminals to be shot in self-defence. They should, if possible, be given the opportunity to surrender, but even if they do not come out with their hands up, they must be taken alive, if that can be achieved without risk. Exactly how Bin Laden came to be shot (especially if it was in the back of the head, execution-style) therefore requires explanation. Why the hasty “burial at sea” without a post-mortem, as the law requires?”

Why indeed? The trouble is various US Administrations have lied to the world – lied about the reasons for going to war in Iraq, lied about the existence of WMD, lied about Saddam being in league with al-Qaida.

And the problem with serial liars is that when they do tell the truth no one believes them.

Once again America has managed to shoot itself in the foot in the name of justice – a justice that has earned the admiration and praise of the chairman of the Israeli parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs and Security.

Shaul Mofaz of the right wing Kadima is now urging the Zionist Government to assassinate Palestinian leaders like the “US did with Osama bin Laden”.

He seems to have overlooked the fact that Israel has been “doing an Obama” for years as the leadership of Hamas can testify.

Nevertheless, it seems that even though international law prohibits the use of extra judicial assassination policies, various states of terror may now starting “Doing an Obama”.

After bringing an end to the biggest manhunt in US history, the US President has managed to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory.

British journalist Yvonne Ridley is a patron of the London-based NGO Cageprisoners – www.cageprisoners.com

13-20

Muslim Organization Reactions to Death of Osama Bin Laden

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

TMO Editor’s Note:  In a raid conducted in Abbottabad Pakistan  early Monday morning, four helicopters carrying Seal Team Six killed Osama Bin Laden.  This closes an important chapter in the post-9/11 world and many Muslim organizations put out press releases in response.  Below are several of the press releases.

2011-05-03T124852Z_2134480469_GM1E7531LXG01_RTRMADP_3_SAUDI-BINLADEN

ISNA

Islamic Society of North America Welcomes Justice For 9/11 Victims  

(Plainfield, IN: May 2, 2011) The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) joins all Americans in thanking President Obama for fulfilling his promise to bring Osama Bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, and perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks, to justice.

We hope his death will bring some relief to all the families, of every faith and walk of life, who lost loved ones on 9/11 and in every other terrorist attack orchestrated at the hands of Osama Bin Laden. 

Over the past decade, ISNA has stood firm on our stance that ISNA and Muslims in America condemn the actions of Bin Laden on 9/11 and all acts of terror at the hands of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all others who spread fear and hate through violence.  We have repeatedly condemned the calls of Bin Laden and others like him for mass bloodshed and the attacking of innocent lives across the world. 

As the President pointed out in his address to the nation, the ideology of Bin Laden is incompatible with Islam:  “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.  Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.  So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”

President Obama marked his hope that today, Americans will “think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11” and remember that “on that day, no matter what God we prayed to, we were united as one American family.” 

osama-bin-laden32805N“ISNA joins President Obama and prays that as the nation continues to heal from the devastation inflicted upon them at the hands of Bin Laden, we will turn to each other today, united, and emerge tomorrow with an even stronger resolve to take every action necessary to protect the precious ideals of our nation that Bin Laden attempted to destroy on 9/11: peace, tolerance, respect, and freedom for all,” said ISNA President Imam Magid.

CAIR

CAIR: Bin Laden Death Leads to Maine Mosque Vandalism

‘Osama today, Islam tomorow (sic)’ painted on Muslim house of worship

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/2/2011) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on Americans of all faiths to remain unified after the killing of Osama bin Laden apparently led to the bias-motivated vandalism of a mosque in Portland, Me.

CAIR also called on state and national law enforcement authorities to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

Portland police are investigating the anti-Islam graffiti, which included “Osama today, Islam tomorow (sic),” “Long live the West” and “Free Cyprus,” painted on the exterior of the Maine Muslims Community Center sometime between late Sunday night and this morning.

SEE: Graffiti on Portland Mosque Under Investigation

Portland Mosque Vandalized in Wake of bin Laden Death

“We ask Americans of all faiths to reject intolerance and to send a message of national unity to the rest of the world,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “We urge state law enforcement authorities and the FBI to investigate this incident as a hate crime.”

Earlier today at a news conference in Washington, D.C. CAIR and other national Muslim organizations welcomed the announcement of the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a threat to America and the world. CAIR chapters nationwide issued similar statements.

CIOGC

CIOGC welcomes the end of a dark era and bringing justice to the victims of Sept. 11, 2001

(Chicago, IL – 5/2/11) — The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) welcomes the end of a dark era and the bringing of justice to the victims of 9/11 with news of the death of Osama bin Laden.

“This is a historic moment not only to the families of the victims of 9/11 but for the whole world. A mass murderer who served as the face of global terrorism is gone,” said Kiran Ansari, Communication Director of CIOGC. “We pray that his death will bring a measure of relief to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 and to everyone, from every faith and walk of life, who has suffered from Al-Qaida’s terrorist attacks.”

“His actions and those of Al-Qaeda violate the most fundamental teachings of Islam, the sanctity of human life, and his repeated acts of terror have been met with moral outrage by Muslims worldwide,” said CIOGC Chairperson Dr. Zaher Sahloul. “We thank President Obama for overseeing this operation and his reiterating that ‘the United States is not – and never will be – at war with Islam’”.

The operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden is one of the most important achievements of President Obama and his national security team. We are also hopeful that the “Arab Spring,” the widespread movements in the Middle East of peaceful protestors demanding democracy and freedom, has signified the death of Al-Qaeda’s ideology of violent extremism. However, as the President noted in his statement, we must continue to be vigilant in the fight against extremism. The Council will continue to play its part.

“We stand together with our fellow Americans, as part of one family, in remaining vigilant against any and all threats to our country and we will continue to work hand in hand with our friends and neighbors to protect the values upon which our nation was founded: peace, tolerance and freedom,” said Ahlam Jbara, the Associate Director of CIOGC.

PAKPAC

US Forces Capture and Kill Osama Bin Laden

Washington DC May 2nd 2011: PAKPAC congratulates the Obama administration and our men and women in uniform for successfully carrying out an operation against Osama Bin Laden.   Bin Laden’s attack on 9/11 defined the previous decade – and our entire approach to national security.   Bin Laden’s abhorrent and heinous acts of terrorism led to wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and many other covert operations around the world.   These wars cost the lives of countless American soldiers, and scores of civilians of all nationalities and faiths.   His death is a victory for the civilized world. 

We have not yet defeated terrorism and its ideology, but today marks a significant step forward.  Moreover, PAKPAC agrees with President Obama when he stated that the, “..US is not, and never will be, at war with Islam… bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, he was a mass-murderer of Muslims.” and that, “it is important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan led to his capture.”   PAKPAC hopes for continued cooperation between Pakistan and United States.

Now with the Arab awakening, and democracy taking hold in the Middle East, PAKPAC is confident that Al-Qaeda and its ideology will be relegated to the dust bin of history.

Today, we remember the 3000 men and women who lost their lives on 9/11.  Today, their souls have a measure of justice.  Today, no matter our political leanings, we are all Americans, united, as one nation.

For more information write to ed@pakpac.net or call 202 558 6404.

ACCESS

Jaber: Bin Laden’s death marks a turning point

Hassan Jaber Numerous news organizations including the Detroit Free Press and USA Today quoted ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber this week regarding the death of Osama bin Laden and where our nation and our community go from here. Following is Jaber’s full statement to the media:

“For the past decade, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have been what defined our country, both at home and abroad. The death of Osama bin Laden thankfully closes out this long winter of political upheaval, social turmoil and economic disparity – so much of it precipitated by 9/11. We commend the Obama Administration and the U.S. security and intelligence agencies for their work in bringing this painful chapter to a decisive close, and in doing so, helping the families of the 9/11 victims and those of the first responders who also suffered and died, to find closure.

“This is, indeed, a new day in America. Osama bin Laden is dead. We must not allow his legacy to live on by continuing to divide us. Extremism of any type demands our ongoing vigilance and our attention as a nation. At ACCESS, we believe the best way to counteract it is to put our shoulders to the work of healing from within to build our strength as a nation – to stand together rather than separate. We can start this process first by learning to accept one another for all our differences, for the vibrancy which makes us stronger. This is the first step in helping to heal the rifts in our fragile economy and the paralysis of our tattered political system, to demand governance that supports the well-being of all Americans and stands as a model of democracy to the rest of the world.”

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US Sends Gitmo Detainee Home to Kuwait

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials say a Kuwaiti citizen held at Guantanamo Bay has been brought back to his home country.

Justice Department officials say Fouad Mahmoud al-Rabiah was handed over to Kuwaiti authorities.

A federal judge had ruled in September that al-Rabiah must be released. His departure leaves 210 detainees at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba. President Barack Obama has pledged to close the detention center, but the administration is expected to miss a deadline next month to complete the task.

Separately, Attorney General Eric Holder visited the New York federal courthouse, where he plans to put five accused plotters in the Sept. 11 attacks on trial. All five are currently held at Guantanamo.

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“Building Peace in the Pursuit of Justice: The Issue of Kashmir”

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir center, Parliament of World’s Religions, Melbourne, Australia

I feel gratified that the Parliament of World’s Religions is seized of the important matters relating to the building of peace in the pursuit of justice. The opportunity to exchange views on this important subject is wonderful.  The intellectual challenge is great and the stakes are equally huge. Men and women have yearned for peace and justice for ages. As the Old Testament taught, we should never sleep untroubled until justice flows down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

International peace has been recognized over the years as an essential condition for the enjoyment of human rights and justice for all. It is axiomatic that international peace defines the basic condition for the respect for civil and political rights and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights. In an environment of turmoil and tribulations, the very concept of human rights becomes a mockery.  The most promising way to prevent conflict is to eliminate its causes.  The latter are well known. Violence and mayhem ensue because of mankind’s desire for domination, wealth, territory and destruction of people and things that are disliked for religious, racial, ethnic, cultural or other reasons.

After an end to the ideological confrontation between East and West, the international community had reason to hope that hostilities in many parts of the world would also come to an end and the residual regional conflicts would be resolved peacefully through negotiations. However, contrary to our expectations, in many parts of the world, bloody conflicts are raging which have destroyed all the hopes for a humane and stable world order.  The unresolved conflicts of Palestine and Kashmir are a challenge to international leadership and the human conscience.

Although the UN has written declarations that affirm the rights of vulnerable populations, there must be a greater worldwide effort on the part of governments, NGOs, businesses, and UN agencies to incorporate peace, justice and human dignity into internationalization and globalization.  Peace, justice and human dignity cannot take a back seat as societies globalize their trade, supply chaining, and outsourcing.  Freedom and justice must prevail above all political and economic aspects of international trade relations, and treaties even if it requires canceling trade agreements with countries that blatantly allow gross human rights violations to continue.  It is the responsibility of everyone operating in the international arena to ensure that peace, justice and human dignity are protected.  Global ethics must be fully integrated into the process of globalization.

As long as any one human being suffers the indignation of rape, slavery, torture or sexual exploitation, then peace, justice and human dignity remain absent from the human race as a whole.

The South Asian region furnishes an undeniable evidence of how respect for human rights cannot be achieved without first creating conditions for international peace. The people of Kashmir were pledged by no less authority than the UN Security Council to exercise their right to decide their future under conditions free from coercion and intimidation.  The denial of this right is directly inter-related with the peace of the region.

I believe that peace and justice in Kashmir are achievable if all parties concerned – India, Pakistan and Kashmiris – make some sacrifices.  Each party will have to modify its position so that common ground is found.  It will be impossible to find a solution of Kashmir conflict that respects all the sensitivities of Indian authorities, values all the sentiments of Pakistan, keeps intact the unity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and safeguards the rights and interests of the people of all the different zones of the state.  Yet this does not mean that we cannot find an imaginative solution.  It is possible provided all parties will modify their stated positions and show some flexibility.

I also believe that peace and justice in Kashmir are achievable only if pragmatic and realistic strategy is established to help set a stage to put the Kashmir issue on the road to a just and durable settlement.  Since, we are concerned with setting a stage for settlement rather than the shape the settlement will take, I believe it is both untimely and harmful to indulge in, or encourage, controversies about the most desirable solution.  Any attempt to do so amounts to playing into the hands of those who would prefer to maintain a status quo that is unacceptable to the people of Kashmir and also a continuing threat to peace in South Asia.  We deprecate raising of quasi-legal or pseudo-legal questions during the preparatory phase about the final settlement.  It only serves to befog the issue and to convey the wrong impression that the dispute is too complex to be resolved and that India and Pakistan hold equally inflexible positions.  Such an impression does great injury to the cause.

We anticipate that this forum will make valuable contribution not only to build peace in the pursuit of justice, but also to build stronger partnership between members of various religious groups and civil society for this important task.

Dr. Fai can be reached at gnfai2003@yahoo.com

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Christian Scholar: Was Jesus a Muslim?

November 2, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

PA248508 Warren–October 24–Jesus’ being Muslim is a foundational belief of Islam, but not for Christians.  All of the prophets were teachers of the one true religion, although each taught different aspects of it.  But for Christians to think that Jesus (as) is Muslim is a very radical idea.

So true is this that the author and professor Robert F. Shedinger faced, predictably, some opposition when he published his book with the name Was Jesus a Muslim.

The author spoke about his book this past Saturday at the IONA mosque in Warren.

The essence of Mr. Shedinger’s argument is that Islam is not a religion but rather a system of pursuing social justice.  He argued that actually the reason non-Muslims call it a religion is in order to classify it in a way that has no relevance to social justice–in order to exclude religious people from involvement in controversies in the public square.

The underlying purpose of Western attempts to classify Islam as a religion, he argues, is to subvert the religious organizing principle and preempt a religious backlash against attempts to dominate or colonize a culture.

In fact, while it may sound offensive to think that Islam is not a religion, the professor couched this argument in very complimentary terms, arguing that in fact the idea of a religion being just a religion is a particularly Western concept that would have been foreign even to early Christians, let alone to the other peoples of the world and the other religions of the world.

Perhaps another way to state this argument would be to say that Islam is a complete system of life, not just a devotional practice restricted to certain days.
In accordance with his argument that Islam is not a religion, he argues that Christianity is also analogously not a religion, and he argues that Jesus (as) was in a sense a revolutionary and politically dynamic person, therefore not “just” a religious figure.

Shedinger argues that diverse Muslim scholars such as Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini and South Africa’s Fareed Ishaq have argued along similar lines that Islam should not be separated from social justice.  Shedinger quoted Tariq Ramadan also and his frequent calls to political justice of various sorts.

A different view might be that Islam is a religion the practice of which should be divorced from politics, except that it is a complete religion with implications in every avenue of life, including leadership.  Beyond this, Jesus (as) was actually Muslim in submission to God’s will, who will be Muslim when he returns.

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