Open Letter to Arvind Kejriwal from an Aam Aadmi

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 September 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Danish Ahmad Khan

I am writing to you with a heavy heart, and as an aggrieved and a concerned Aam Aadmi (common man). I’ve been closely following the drama enacted in the name of ‘Fight Against Corruption’ since past one year now. This drama, which had Anna Hazare in the lead role, had its own twists and turns at various stages as it should have been. The hero and side actors in this drama, namely Anna Hazare (Hero) Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi (all Side Actors), had been vocal in promising to the Indian people to do everything to cleanse the society of the prevailing corruption and getting corrupt bureaucrats punished by forcing the government to bring in an effective ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill and making it into a law. But whatever happened during the past one year is there for everybody to see. Now, talks of ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill has become history and petty politicking has taken over.

Forget about getting the ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill passed in the Parliament, much to your chagrin you have been completely sidelined by the hero of this failed movement Anna Hazare and barred from using his name and photograph during your next phases of drama in the coming days. Do you know why this illiterate, dehati (village folk) Anna Hazare sidelined the hyperactive, intelligent and urbane Arvind Kejriwal? The answer is quite simple. Anna Hazare suspected your entire activities during the course of the movement and had a gut feeling that you had complete disregard for him, forcibly taken over the entire movement, used him for your own selfish agenda, and virtually ignored and kept him away from major decisions that you took yourself. It was as if Emperor ‘Shahjahan’ (Anna Hazare) had been imprisoned by his own son ‘Aurangzeb’ (Arvind Kejriwal) for the sake of grabbing power. Recently, after getting a rebuke from Anna Hazare you called Anna as a father figure whose photo you will continue to carry in your heart.

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, serious movements like ‘Fight Against Corruption’ are not run on the foundations of arrogance, dictatorial attitude, lumpen behavior and blind animosity against one particular party – Congress Party. Serious movements like the present one are run only after taking all sections of society together, irrespective of religion, caste and creed, since corruption impacts everybody in their day-to-day lives. But, Muslims felt completely alienated from Day 1 when the first protest was held at Jantar Mantar on 5 April 2011. I had also highlighted this ugly aspect of the movement on my website IndianMuslimObserver.com [Please See: Fight Against Corruption: Can Indians Sustain It for Long?] as I observed that communal organizations and parties were acting as bulwark and giving tacit support to your movement. Muslims naturally saw this as a deliberate attempt to keep them aloof from this important movement and later on portray them in bad light as not participating wholeheartedly in this movement.

Stop being Hypocrite!

An important leader of this movement Kiran Bedi already parted ways with you and professed her undying love for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is known in several quarters for its avowed communal views and is largely seen as anti-minority (Read anti-Muslim and anti-Christian). Another leader Prashant Bhushan is known for his anti-national views for supporting the dead and sensitive issue of Plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir. He was even thrashed by a group of nationalists in his Lawyer’s chamber at Supreme Court of India.

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, even your activities are suspect in the eyes of the Indian people. In the initial phase of the movement, you and your team members campaigned vigorously against Congress Party during Hisar by-poll in Haryana. Now, you say that you are against both the mainstream BJP and Congress Party, as they are corrupt and good-for-nothing and should be defeated at all costs in the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections in 2014. But see, how confused and a great hypocrite you are! You have recently announced that you are going to form a political party and fight the first elections in Delhi, where Congress Party is currently in power under the leadership of Sheila Dikshit. Mr. Kejriwal, you have also declared that your party is not going to fight elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where BJP is in power and is being currently headed by Narendra Modi (of 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim Riots fame) and Prem Kumar Dhumal respectively. Aren’t you a big hypocrite just like the present-day politicians? Though you may try to befool and cheat people by showing your opposition to both BJP and Congress Party, but your fight is clearly directed against Congress Party and not BJP. After all, whom are you befooling and cheating, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal? Why aren’t you fighting elections against Narendra Modi and Prem Kumar Dhumal? What makes you shy away from putting up candidates against BJP in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and only show your hatred and animosity against Congress Party government in Delhi? You certainly owe an explanation to the Aam Aadmi (common man) for this flip flop and false perception you have created about your persona. Also, in the name of Freedom of Expression, you have started supporting people like Aseem Trivedi, who acted against national interests and made cartoons that denigrated national symbols.

Just see what a former Chief Justice of India had to say about your credentials and those of Kiran Bedi. A few months ago I and my colleagues were sitting at the residence of a former Chief Justice of India, and he said that both you and Kiran Bedi have utterly communal credentials. And, both of you have proved it just right by your current actions.

Where’s the Promise of Different Brand of Politics?

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, you promised the Indian people and your supporters that you are going to launch a political party and create a different brand of politics. But, I am pained to see that even before the launch of your political party you and your chums took to the streets of Delhi over increased electricity tariff issue and started acting as petty politicians. Instead of creating a different brand of politics, you are more concerned with the same stereotype Bijli (Electricity), Sadak (Roads) and Paani (Water) type of politics just like any other street politician. Clearly, this is not the brand of politics we have expected from you. We expect something quite different kind of politics which no party has been able to give the aggrieved Indian people ever since the country’s independence. But, your actions are in quite contrast and hollow. This kind of politics will lead you nowhere, but sheer ignominy at the end.

Aam Aadmi is more Corrupt!

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, do you know that Aam Aadmi is more corrupt than the bureaucrats and politicians? In fact, corruption has all along proved to be a boon for the Aam Aadmi and flourished under his/her tutelage. Whether it’s encroachment of government/public lands, running of small industrial units in residential areas and involving in electricity theft, helping in the establishment of illegal colonies, and much more, just take pains to visit various areas in Delhi and see for yourself, and you’ll get to know what I’m talking about. Dare to ask Aam Aadmi who’s responsible for all this and you’ll get the answer with “Sab Chalta Hai” (Everything works) attitude. The real ‘Fight Against Corruption’ has to begin with the Aam Aadmi. The Aam Aadmi is born corrupt, knows how to bend laws in his/her favor, knows how pay bribes and get away with all the illegal activities, knows how to fix his/her opponents, and is possessed with ‘supernatural’ qualities to make things work in his/her favor. Instead of targeting politicians and bureaucrats, you should first of all work among the Aam Aadmi and cleanse his/her soul and mindset. It is here that the real ‘Fight Against Corruption’ is to be won.

Your goals and priorities are all Wrong!

You have got your goals and priorities all wrong. My sane advice to you is to defer the decision of launching the political party for now and begin your campaign among the Aam Aadmi in earnest and with honest intentions. Instead of collecting alms and donations, you need to first of all deliver on your promises and prove yourself. Try to integrate people of all sections of the society and solidify your presence among them. Shirk your habit of having blind animosity against a particular political party and stop being egoist, dictatorial and hypocrite. Don’t live in a fool’s paradise and wage a strong battle against the scourge of corruption. And, you and your team can surely count on my support always.

I’ll come up with more suggestions on how to work for a real change of peoples’ mindset and government’s attitude. I hope my advice will act as an eye-opener for you, your team and the people of our great nation India.

Best Wishes. 

[Danish Ahmad Khan, a Delhi-based Journalist, is Founder-Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at danish_a_khan@outlook.com/indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com or on his Mobile # +91 9990179721]

Related Links:

(1.) OPINION: Fight Against Corruption: Can Indians Sustain It for Long?

(2.) ANALYSIS: 'Communal, Anti-national' Team Anna confused about its priorities, anti-corruption movement targeted only towards Congress Party

(3.) The Muslim Dilemma on Anna Hazare

(4.) ANALYSIS: “‘Coward, Dictatorial, Unpatriotic’ Anna Hazare’s days are over”

(5.) Will Anna Hazare muster courage to criticise Narendra Modi in Gujarat?

Indecency against the prophet is a sign of West’s moral and intellectual defeat

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Abdul Rashid Agwan

The barrage of cartoons, films, books, bloggers and events in many western countries, mortifying Prophet Muhammad, is nothing but a sign of West’s moral and intellectual defeat vis-à-vis Islam. Recently, the western society is not only seen getting bankrupt economically but morally as well. It is gradually losing its sheen and sobriety as a claimant of superior culture.

The West known for tolerance, liberalism, religious liberty and dialogue-oriented bridging among people is being steadily replaced by a West, infested with intolerance, conservatism, monoculturalism and racial frenzies.

The bizarre acts in the West remind of a failing debater who, exhausted of arguments and logical consistency, jumps to invectives and diatribes. There has been a time when a section of literature and media carried repeated assertions regarding certain ‘faults’ in Islam such as polygamy, triple divorce, barbaric punishments, and the like. Then, there appears the recent phenomenon of terrorism. However, in the concerning debates the ultimate winner has been Islam. The faith has been condemned for all these alleged faults but the objective judgment in the West could never endorse the allegations. The consistent disputation on various aspects of Islam has only assured of its appeal as a viable religion. Today, the European churches and synagogues are giving a deserted look whereas mosques are thriving there with young worshippers. The Hijab has a special attraction for those western women who do not subscribe to the prevailing culture’s impropriety. The more it has been written against the Quran the newer western readers joined its circle of admirers in a great number. The plank of terrorism has also failed with reducing takers to believe that it has something to be associated especially with Islam and Muslim society. And, the West is back to square again on the front of vilifying the Prophet of Islam in a frustrated manner.

There is another reason for abrupt events in the West which polarizes local societies into Christian and Muslim classes; the Zionism. Peace and religious tolerance between these two religious communities do not suit to the Jews as the third influential factor in the West. In normalcy, the majority of Christians resume thinking that Jews are their actual masters, they control all their affairs. It becomes evident to them that politics, economy, culture, media and international relations prevailing in the West are actually subservient to the Zionist cause. In a tense and conflicting situation, like the one presently obtained there, the Christian majority finds Muslims responsible for all their problems. Their immigration to the European countries is seen as a threat to native employment, the increasing Muslim population is found as a gradual takeover of Europe by an ‘alien’ culture. Identities related to Hijab, mosques and minarets, Arabic names, the Quran and the inspiring life of Prophet Muhammad are depicted as threats to the Western society. In order to put Christian and Muslim communities against each other in Europe and elsewhere, funds are being provided by the Zionist agencies to the rightist leaders and organizations and the sponsored media is systematically giving coverage to events which could aggravate religious polarization there. Even Zionist organizations such as Middle East Forum as been alleged to financially support election campaign of anti-Islam leaders such as the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. The ethnic tension also suits many European rulers since it distracts public attention from their failures on economic and other fronts.

As a reverend personality, the Prophet of Islam is not the first target of the Western sacrilege.

The Judo-Christian culture yokes a history fraught with shameless denigration of prophets andreligious personalities. The present day Jews are cherishing to build Temple of David on the site of Aqsa mosque of Jerusalem but their predecessors threw a lot of profanity on Prophet David for proving him amorous. His alleged adultery with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite is a well known story of the Bible. How even sympathetic Western scholars write about him, can be understood from this passage: “David was probably the greatest lover in the Old Testament.

As a man after God's own heart, he was the greatest responder to the Love of God. He was very handsome. He had beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. The Hebrew word for David is from the root which means delight from love, or lover. The first letter of his name is the pictorial for the point of a female breast.” The Jewish tribes killed many prophets like Prophet Zechariah and John the Baptist. The innocence of Mary in giving a miraculous birth to a fatherless Jesus was largely doubted in the Judo-Christian history. More recently the mockery of Jesus and other religious personalities by various western writers and artists has led to enactment of anti-blasphemy laws in most Christian countries. Since it is difficult to target Jesusand his family anymore due to rigorous criminal codes, some western intellectuals take liberty in making the Prophet of Islam as the pursuit of their inveterate addiction.

France remains one of the European countries where anti-blasphemy law does not exist and some ultra-liberal sections there take the liberty to print sacrilegious materials from time to time; both against Christianity and Islam. In 2005, the French newspaper Liberation brought out a cartoon of a naked Jesus wearing nothing but a condom and the organization General Alliance against Racism & for the Respect of French & Christian Identity unsuccessfully sought a legal order against it while arguing that it had offended all Christians and "injured their right to practice their religion". The court characterized the portrayal as "crude" but said it did not contravene any laws. In a legal suit against the Charlie Hebdo, the magazine which reproduced its 2007 cartoon of Prophet of Islam recently, the court commented that "the drawing, taken on its own, could be interpreted as shocking for followers of this religion [Islam]" but had to be seen in the wider context of the magazine examining the issue of religious fundamentalism.

Therefore, even if the cartoon was "shocking or hurtful to Muslims, there was no deliberate intention to offend them". Contrarily, in the case of nude pictures of Duchess of Cambridge Middleton Kate that recently appeared in a French magazine Closer, the French judiciary seems more reasonable when the magazine’s further publication was banned and the police raided the magazine’s offices and seized its copies. In the French justice, disparagement of holy prophets and grief of billions of Christians and Muslims does not call forth any legal action but an inconvenience to princess of a western country carries much more gravity for it.

Although European courts generally do not favor aggrieved religious sections, as exemplified from the fate of the above sited two cases, there are some voices in the West which speak for decency in public life. On the murder of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh in 2004, for his anti-Islam sacrilege, Fred Halliday, an Irish expert of international relations, commented, “Any decent society, whatever its supposed discursive exceptionalism, should have prohibited [van Gogh's vilification] and, were it made, to punish the perpetrator. Theo van Gogh should not have been murdered. He should, however, have been arrested and compelled to issue an apology. Had this occurred, Dutch society would have demonstrated its ability, cultural traumas or not, to meet its moral obligations towards immigrants. And, probably, Theo van Gogh would still be alive today”. Unfortunately, the western leaders and media generally condemn reactions and not the provocations which are aplenty nowadays. Inducement to crime is also a crime. The one who incites someone to commit suicide is also considered offender in the eyes of law. A public address which leads to violence is also punishable under law. However, provocative material is regularly being published in the West without any deterrent but the entailing violent reaction that takes out somewhere becomes the target of censure.

According to International Terrorism Monitor, when Iraqi Christians became targets of some Muslim militants, the most hated terrorist in the West Osama Bin Laden called it ‘pollution of Jihad’. At least that much morality could be shown by an unexpected one. But, how many westerners have instantly come out to condemn sacrilegious films, cartoons or blogs which take a toll of many innocent lives every now and then? No eminent person either in Europe or the U.S. and none of the hundreds of Nobel Laureates there, no one from the papal family and the globally dispersed Christian clergy have disapproved such acts. The silent majority of the West is really silent. Whatever reactions on record are against the agitators; why they make so much fuss on trivial matters? The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche has said “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” Perhaps this is truer of the present western society than any other one. This is nothing but a sheer madness that blasphemous movies, cartoons, blogs and books are being produced in the West without any aggravation or need. The courts are not taking unbecoming provocations seriously and the public opinion is also not strong enough to deter miscreants.

Tragically the western political system has also become equally insensitive to such a sacrilege.

Say for example, the French government has banned demonstrations against publication of some provocative cartoons in a satirical weekly but not the magazine itself which triggered the protests, although either both deserved interdiction for ‘breach of public safety’ or acquiescence under ‘freedom of expression’. In the U.S., the Obama administration has taken no action against the irreverent film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ but it spent about $70,000 in TV ads in Pakistan announcing that the government respects religion and it had nothing to do with the movie. These ads were displayed only in Pakistan, even not back home in the U.S. itself, obviously not to share the grief of local people but to ‘manage’ its possible ramification on the war front in the Af-Pak region. What a crude joke from a leading western country which shows reverence to religion only when it becomes a military exigency!

Muslims are in a dilemma since their traditions do not allow making mockery of religious personalities, respected by Jews and Christians or any other denomination; firstly this is considered as an obnoxious act in itself and secondly they equally revere Biblical prophets.
This holds back Muslims to react by making similar movies and cartoons of David, Solomon, Moses, Marry or Jesus. These are two distinct traditions; one is unmindful of blatant contempt to all reverend personalities and the other is cautious in paying reverence even to the religious and cultural heroes of opponents. In such a situation moderate Muslim leaders have no choice but to release appeals of restrain. As Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Muslim Council, has done by describing both the film and the cartoons as "acts of aggression" but at the same time he urged French Muslims not to protest in the streets since it would be “counterproductive”. Perhaps, there is one more way to face the challenge. That is by reminding the western elite of the religious tenets of their own. Muslims can either follow this advice of the Gospel Luke wherein Jesus is recorded to have said: “But I tell you who hear me:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. ….”. Or, they can join Pope Benedict XVI in his Christmas 2010 prayer “Lord, make your promise come finally true! Break the rods of the oppressors! Burn the tramping boots! Let the time of the garments rolled in blood come to an end!”

In any case, the frantic events in a number of western countries ranging from Wisconsin Gurudwara killings in the U.S. to genocidal firing on immigrants in Netherland and from the anti-Quran movement of Father Terry Jones to Swiss government’s referendum on construction of minaret of the Geneva-based mosque in the precincts of Turkish embassy, all comprise signs of a new West in making, an intellectually and morally defeated West. 

The Christian activist C. Wright Mills wrote a few months back in The Nation on the silence of Christian majority regarding the prevailing violence and ethnic tension and termed it a Christian society’s moral defeat. He says, “By sitting down and by keeping quiet, by all too often echoing the claptrap of the higher immorality that now passes for political leadership - you are helping to enfeeblefurther in this time of cruel troubles the ideals of your Founder (Jesus). Christianity is part of the moral defeat of man today…”

[Abdul Rashid Agwan is President of Universal Knowledge Trust, a Delhi-based Think Tank, and can be contacted on agwan@rediffmail.com]

For the first time, Haj flights begin from Gaya International Airport

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Wakeel Ahmad

Gaya: With Gaya Internatinal Airport (GIA) having become an embarkation point, people of Gaya are all agog to give warm welcome to the Haj pilgrims here. It is the first time in the history of Gaya when Haj pilgrims are flying straight to Jeddah from Gaya International Airport. Earlier too, Gaya was an embarkation point way back in 2003 during BJP rule at the Centre. However, they had to detour to reach Mecca. Hence, they either went to Kolkata or Delhi to board International flight. Hence, those pilgrims who are at the wrong side of their age, had to bear tedious, exhaustive and arduous journey, 

However, flight from Gaya did not go down well with some vested politicians. Unfortunately, the sacred journey to Mecca from Gaya was also not remained untouched by petty politics. Consequently, embarkation point was again shifted to space crunched Patna airport.The Haj pilgrims, as a consequence, had to to face plethora of problems, including rigour of journey as well as loss of their luggage in transit.

Good sense, however, dawned upon the Civil Aviation Ministry and embarkation point was ultimately shifted to Gaya. So, Haj pilgrims would now save the time around 14 hours to reach Mecca. The pilgrims have been flying to Jeddah by AI-5589 and AI-5591 since 17 September 2012. More than 6,000 Haj pigrims hailing from different districts of Bihar would be flying straight to Jeddah till October 6.

Haj pilgrims to Gaya Airport are warmly welcomed by Gayaites, who are on their toes to extend every possible help and service to them.

Pilgrims are arriving Gaya airport by the airconditioned Volvo buses that were flagged off by the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. A group of Muslim doctors have been providing free treatment to the Haj pilgrims. Four-bed hospital equipped with all emergency and life saving drugs as well as gadgets like ECG machines and cardiac monitor had been set up both inside and outside the airport Dr Farasat Hussain, in charge of the medical camps, said to Indian Muslim Observer.

Deputy Civil Surgeon (DCS) Dr. S. Z. Hussain said doctors would work in three shifts and four beds would also be ready for emergency at the Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMMCH).Apart from that four ambulances would be ready round the clock to bring unwell pilgrims to the hospital.

A few people from Hindu community have also showed keen desire to render their services and supply mineral water and breakfast to Haj pilgrims. But their service was denied by some conservative Muslims.

However, everything is not hunky dory.The tariff being charged for food in Haj Bhawan is not genuine, said Sami Akhtar, a social activist.

[Wakeel Ahmad is Staff Correspondent with IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at wakeeldel@gmail.com]

National seminar on '21st Century’s Socio-economic Challenges' in Kanpur on Sept. 30

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: A National seminar on the topic of “21st Century’s Socio-economic Challenges” is being organised on September 30th in the industrial city of Kanpur.

Maulana Syed Mohammad Rabey Hasani Nadwi, Chairman of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, has consented to preside over the seminar. The key-note address will be delivered by Maulana Fazlur Rahim Mujaddidi, chairman of SEE, (Strive for Eminence and Empowerment). The seminar, which is being organized under the aegis of SEE, will be held at Rajendra Swaroop auditorium in the Civil Lines locality of Kanpur from 10 am onwards.
Salman Khurshid, Union Minister of Law & Minority Affairs; Mr. Prakash Jaiswal, Union Coal Minister; Dr. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, ex-president of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee, (UPCC); Mr. Nirmal Khatri, president of UPCC; and Mr. Zafar Ali Naqvi, Member of Parliament, would be the other dignitaries who would participate in the seminar.

According to Maulana Fazlur Rahim Mujaddidi, who is the brain behind and has prepared the Concept paper of the seminar on “21st Century’s Socio-economic Challenges”, the 21st Century has brought new problems, ideas, icons & civilizational aspects, a qualitative change from the previous century for which people, particularly the Muslims, are least prepared. Rapid educational development in the form of technology is becoming the real power of the States. The States are withdrawing from welfare services, education etc. Those spaces have to be filled by the groups coming from civil societies. The absence of the State from civil amenities affects the poor most.

Maulana Fazlur Rahim in his Concept paper says: “Roti, Kapra aur Makaan” the basic dreams of the 20th Century, have been replaced by Quality Education, Health & Economic participation. Indian economy is the fastest growing economy of the world after China. Its GDP at factor cost at constant (2004-05) prices in the year 2010-11 is now estimated at Rs.48,77,842 crore. The Muslims and other weaker sections missed the bus as is clearly reflected in Sachar Committee Report (2006) & Justice Rangnath Misra Report (2008).
The socio-economic growth agenda is articulated by the Planning Commission of India in its Five Year Plan. It is the responsibility of the Planning Commission to look at the regional and social development imbalances and fill the gaps created in between.

There are at least two spheres which can deliver better performance only with the assistance and participation of the government. It is not necessary that all the time the exchequer has the capacity of abundant funds to meet the expenses of public welfare. Our country has also seen the periods of time when the Five Year Plans had to be done away with in very critical and grave economic situations. As mentioned above, the rate of economic growth of India stands second to China. During the year 2011-12, GDP growth rate was 6.5 per cent adding approx. Rs.50,00,000 crores to the exchequer. Those having an eye upon the economic matters are familiar with the variance in the growth rate of an economy. It is not a steady phenomenon, but has a trend of inconsistency in it, the Concept paper says.

When infrastructural critical gaps are outsized, it has a propensity to increase, and with the filling of these gaps, it tends to slow down. It is anticipated that in our country these spaces will be filled up after 2020. As a consequence, the government will accordingly expend lesser amount in social sphere, and eventually it will be moved in the private hands. This trend is to some extent is manifested in the 12th Plan. Briefly it can be said that in the 12th and 13th Plans there will be huge expenditure in the educational and health like sectors, which is not likely to be further replicated.

From the above discussion two things are clear: in the 12th and 13th Plan, there will be ample funds allocated for welfare schemes, the Concept paper points out.

Maulana Fazlur Rahim said: “We are confident that the 12th Plan will be better than the 11th Plan. Though each plan process has attempted to take special note of the status of the weaker sections and seen that their needs, concerns, and aspirations are taken into account, the 11th FYP (2007-2012) for the first time made a concerted effort to reverse some of the trends that plagued the minorities in general and Muslims in particular. These positive policy instruments showed desirable results in a short period of time and raised the expectation of the various communities across the board. The 12th Plan (2012-17) proposals have been completed and submitted by various committees constituted for 12th FYP.

However, he said that there were teething problems in implementation of the welfare schemes. lack of transparency, lousy procedures & guidelines, corruption and lack of initiatives by the Community themselves are blocking needy people to get the benefits of the welfare schemes. 

Muslims must partake of their citizenship rights, and enjoy the fruits of development, like all other groups. The rights of Muslims to equal opportunity and equal access to all public goods and services must not be hampered by bias and prejudice in the hearts and minds of those who implement these schemes, the Concept paper stresses.

Maulana Fazlur Rahim said: “I am also worried why these schemes, starting from Delhi, do not reach up to our villages, blocks and towns. This seminar is an effort to deeply comprehend this problem and to find a way out so that the objective of these schemes may be fulfilled in letter and spirit.”

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Arab media has failed the people

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

Many forms of Arab media exist, but have they failed the Middle East?

In a world dominated to a great extent by media institutions, where media becomes a battle front, it is necessary to explore how the media operates, with what goals, and how it influences society. In an interview with Arwa Al-Rikabi of Arab News, Leon Barkho who is a prominent scholar, spoke on this issue.

As the manager of the Media Effects and Practices Program at Sweden’s Jönköping University as well as someone who was a media person for years before that, Barkho provides an informed assessment of the media and its effects. He is also a longtime opinion writer for the Arabic newspaper Al-Eqtisadiya, where he tackles various important but often overlooked issues.

His book “News from the BBC, CNN, and Al-Jazeera: How the three broadcasters cover the Middle East” offers valuable insight into how the more powerful in society shape our views of the world through discourse and media. He reveals how BBC, CNN, and Al-Jazeera use cultural and religious signs to identify the benign and malignant in the Palestinian-Israeli struggle and the Iraq invasion.

What got you interested in studying media practices and effects?

“Media is an important topic in Sweden. Media studies are conducted at its 45 universities and numerous media-related institutions. I have a lot of interest in the media but more specifically the impact it has on the society at large. Media practices and effects were one of the major topics of my Ph.D. When I finished the dissertation and made it available electronically in Swedish libraries, it immediately drew massive attention from the media and the scholarly community because it showed in practical terms how language can be manipulated to shape communicative events not as they are but as institutions or media organizations want them to be. It demonstrated that in the case of the struggle between Palestine and Israel, the war in Iraq and the conflict in Chechnya there is no news medium, which tells it as it is.

A Swedish philanthropist got interested in my work and donated nearly one million dollars (almost SR 3,800,000) to start a center to conduct research specifically on media effects and practices. The center is growing; it has an international academic journal now and the future looks bright.”

What are your goals and achievements for your Media Content Practices and Effects Program?

“We now have two very important books in press. The first lays down a new discourse (language) theory for impartiality in news and current affairs. The second applies the theory by examining major crises and conflicts. Renowned communication and journalism scholars contributed to this second book. We also issue an influential journal, the Journal of Applied Journalism and Media Studies.

“The center is actively involved in the teaching of communication, media and journalism at the university. Our goal now is to recruit a few Ph.D. students to carry advanced research based on the discourse theory the center is developing. The theory basically supplements the media effects and practices of my thesis which has already been developed into a book that came out a year and half ago in the US and is being used as a textbook at many places."

How would you describe Arab media in general? Is there a common thread of thought that is reinforced?

“I follow Arab media, particularly the most influential newspapers and news broadcasters. As a media scholar I am sad to say there is little to be proud of about the Arab media. The major problem facing Arab media is independence. If you are not independent you cannot produce impartial discourse. The coverage of the so-called Arab Spring has demonstrated this. It is so one-sided, partial and skewed that sometimes one is ashamed to be associated with it. It has become more sectarian than the simple and ordinary audiences on the street. It is disappointing to see major media that had established a name on the international scene, toeing the line of their financial sponsors. Some of the major media have dropped basic standards of vetting and verification to the extent one can no longer distinguish between amateur and professional content. The Arab Spring seems to have destroyed even big names like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia.”

How would you assess the role of Arab media in shaping the Arab consciousness in the last decade?

“Arab consciousness has been shaped ages ago. Arab consciousness is rooted in history and religion. The media, instead of changing blind adherence to the past and introducing new concepts and notions for the creation of civil and democratic societies, it is now reinforcing centuries-old divisions. For instance, one would have loved to see major Arab media, at least, enlightening people about the role of religion and that religious beliefs should not be kidnapped by clerics and that interpretations by these clerics should not be viewed in the same holy framework of the Holy Book. What we see now is the triumph of clerics and sectarian thinking over not only Arab consciousness but also the holy text, i.e. the Qur’an.”

American philosopher Noam Chomsky talked about the (concision) concept in TV where content is structured to limit discussion to brief thoughts or “sound bites” that fit between ads. What do you think are the implications of this for real intellectual debate or deep treatment of issues in general?

“In his concision theory Chomsky has Western and specifically American media in mind. So far, research to operationalize the theory has proved Chomsky right. It is not only that content is structured into frames and brief thoughts. Content is becoming binary and dualistic. It represents our world in a way that divides it into binary categorizations of good/evil, positive/negative, benign/malignant and white/black. Language shapes actions and is shaped by them. The media take white/black categorization for granted. If you are powerful (a superpower) you have the right to posses thousands of nuclear warheads and at the same deny others even the thought of having a peaceful nuclear program. We can apply this to human rights. You make a lot of fuss about human rights violations in this region but turn a blind eye if they happen in another region because the latter are your friends. Intellectual debate in the media is timid. It generally accepts the binary concept I have outlined. The implications are we live in a world in which double standards and hypocrisy have become so overwhelming.”

How would you evaluate the quality of entertainment in Arab media, specifically Gulf media?

“I am not a fan of entertainment but my wife is almost addicted to Arab entertainment channels. It seems Arabs are given to entertainment and from my own readings of Arabic literature, particularly the classical genre, Arabs have some of the world’s greatest writers whose main target was to cheer up their readers and entertain them. But that was very serious entertainment. It was real literature and not sub-literature like the writings of Hamadani and Al-Jahidh.

My fear is that most of what I see is not that serious, it does not have a message to deliver, it is not meant to educate. Of course one of the basic tasks of the media is to entertain, but to entertain does not mean to be shallow.”

Many intellectuals have said that the media revolution, from TV to the Internet, has impacted the way people get information and process it. Knowledge has become trivialized and turned into sound bites for consumption as opposed to an integrated cumulative process. What do you think of this description? Do you see the effects of this on young people?

“This is absolutely right. Even my students in Sweden, a country with one of the world’s most advanced educational systems, often view the world in terms of bites and frames, most of them based on media systems that are prevalent here. To combat this, our center has introduced the topic of “media systems” into the training of journalists. The idea is to make them aware of what systems can do to change perceptions and make audiences see the communicative event or even the world from the point of view of a frame or a bite. For instance, the media deal with sound bites and frames when reporting events in the Arab and Muslim world. This has made people see Islam, a cosmopolitan religion embracing different nations, sects and denominations, in terms of these bites and frames.”

The political environment in the Arab region nowadays is a dangerous one. What do you believe should be the media’s role in navigating through these times? How near or far are they in reality from this aspired role?

“The Arab media has become part of the story. It is involved in the conflict. If you listen, read or watch the media you would think that the anchors, the writers, the journalists are the insurgents or the rebels or whatever. The Arab media, unfortunately, has itself become very dangerous. It has become ostensibly skewed even in news and current affairs. For some media the line that separates opinion from fact or news has become so blurred that one may not be able to differentiate between opinion and news. The coverage of the uprisings in the Arab world particularly by major media is partial. You no longer need to be a critical analyst to be aware of it.”

How would you evaluate Muslim efforts to improve their image in the West?

“Who are the Muslims? Who represent the Muslims? For the West they are mainly the Arabs, who in reality are less than one fifth of Muslim population in the world. There are probably as many Muslims in India as the Arab Muslim population. But the image here in the West is that the Arabs represent the Muslim world. As you know there are centuries of antagonism and mistrust between the Arab world and the West, starting from the time of the Crusaders. The Arab world is not homogeneous. It is disparate and divided. Therefore, there are no unified or joint efforts to change the stereotypes and prejudices the West has about Muslims because there is no strategy on the part of the Arabs.”

We have all heard and read American intellectuals and writers talking about “winning the hearts and minds” of Muslims. So far, how successful do you think this effort was?

“Winning hearts and minds becomes an issue when individual liberties count and civil and democratic governments reign. Muslim nations are economically weak. The West, despite the problems it faces now, still leads the world. Personally, I do not think the West cares about winning the hearts and minds of Muslims. They say it, but do not mean it. You do not win hearts and minds then you invade Muslim countries. You cannot win hearts and minds and turn a blind eye to more than 60 years of occupation of Palestinian land and millions of its people. The West will only care about Muslim hearts and minds when Muslims and Arabs think of themselves as valuable human beings, as valuable as Westerners. Then and only then the West will seriously consider winning their hearts and minds.”

Some people are hardly convinced that the media has a powerful effect on individuals and masses in terms of creating enemies or allies or on normalizing certain ideas and vilifying others. As an expert in this field, how would you address this attitude?

“This is a misperception. The media are a weapon and a lethal weapon. For the Israelis, and from my own investigations of their media and visits, the media are a real battlefront. They pay as much attention to the media as they do their armed forces.Communication, in the form of language and discourse, always comes before action. We know ourselves and others not only through actions but through communication actions and language, which precede, accompany and follow our actions.”

Many observers and experts (including Western ones) believe the western model of development and growth has proved disastrous. Gulf countries don’t seem to acknowledge this. What could be a way toward a more independent approach?

“Yes, the discourse here is much focused now on the disasters this Western model is causing and it is going to cause. There are real fears here about the future and whether the welfare state model is sustainable. I believe the disaster is already there. It has hit Greece severely as well as Spain and is spreading. Many people here, among them intellectuals, are talking about it openly. In the Gulf, things are different. You have first to look at the demographic compositions of Gulf states. So many things there are structurally flawed to the extent that I am hesitant to give you concrete examples. Not only the Gulf countries but also Arab countries in general, and perhaps because of Western colonialism and its legacy, see the West as a role model. Western states no longer see themselves in that way. I am afraid that the Gulf states are living in a state of oblivion or denial. For them the West has been almost everything. The West is extremely keen to keep conditions as they are in the Gulf. The Gulf is happy about this, but this is wrong. There are so many things in the Gulf that need to be revised and changed. Not only the Western model is on the brink of disaster. The Gulf model cannot be sustained at all. I refer to this frequently in my Arabic writings, but it seems that it is extremely hard to make the decision-makers reconsider entrenched positions."

There is an increasing trend in Gulf countries toward international schools that teach mainly in English. How do you see this trend in the context of the state of education in the Gulf? What are the benefits and possible repercussions in your opinion?

“I have made my position crystal clear in my Arabic opinion articles about this point. Reliance on the English language at the expense of the national tongue is a point of weakness and a harbinger of disaster. If you cannot have education in your national language, you are not a nation. If there are 15 foreigners for every national in a country, it is no longer a sovereign country. The Gulf states have failed to domesticate industry, technology and agriculture. It never occurred to me as someone with an interest in Arab and Muslim affairs that these countries would also fail to domesticate their national language. Instead of genuine education based on their national tongue and domesticated industries, markets and sectors, the Gulf states are developing pigeon languages and at the same time “pigeon” economic sectors with no national identity.”

(Courtesy: Albawaba)

Future of Pakistan

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Every nation, every people want a better future and they should work toward that goal. Having undergone an extraordinarily pathetic past and also passing through a dreadful present, Pakistan’s future can be even worse if the Pakistanis continue to ignore the source of their problems as they do now. They should decide what kind of future is better for them and the future generations to promote Islamic life.

For those good natured Pakistanis, the news is that Pakistani sovereignty has thus been compromised by the selfish rulers themselves. Pakistan should not have become a submissive servant, a willing puppet, for the US and its terror allies.

For years now, the corrupt regime leaders of Islamabad have been promoting similar selfish, corrupt Muslims who support US-Pak military-economy ties for making quick money. This monstrous situation has let USA the liberty to occupy Pakistan, kill Pakistanis and interfere in Pakistan’s external as well as internal affairs. The current situation has clearly led to the insecurity and misery of the Pakistani citizens throughout the country. Pakistani regime is not at all worried about the crude fate of Pakistan.

Pakistan is known for succumbing under Western, and especially US, pressure so it gleefully gave in to the NATO demands and penned down a long term contract for NATO supply through frontier Region of Pakistan. As a result of terror ties, an estimated 35,000 innocent Pakistanis have been killed, excluding 40,000 who were severely injured, between 2004 and 2010.

Gen Musharraf was instrumental in getting Pakistan destabilized with perpetual chaos in the country which the current rulers promote. Under tremendous from Bush-CIA-Pentagon pressures, the then Pakistan ruler Gen Musharraf allowed the US led NATO terror syndicates to legally occupy Pakistan and use it as a weapons corridor for Afghanistan and by doing so, he also succeeded in gaining legitimacy and support for his regime from the US and its Western allies. 

With immediate effect in 2003, the NATO terror gang took over the command from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that was set up as an action force for security interventions in Afghanistan, and the NATO now heads the operations in Afghanistan, much to the surprise of the world community.

Having opened in 2001, these routes remained closed for a week in 2010 when NATO aircrafts killed Pakistani soldiers. NATO act of aggression by way of attacking Pakistani solders who promote NATO terrorism on their own soil resulted in strong protest, for the first time, from the Pakistani puppet government leading to evacuation orders of the Shamsi Air Base, used by the ISAF, as well as suspension of the NATO supply route.

Recently, under enduing pressure tactics of USA, both the governments reached a mutual agreement and reopened the routes, as was expected by most of the hypocritical, selfish Pakistanis.

Of course, the US aid has become a horrid drug for Pakistan’s leaders and their political suppers. Having used to getting service charges for terror cooperation for NATO rogue states, many Pakistanis, both US agents and anti-Islam feel nervous about their own future prospects as the Pak-US relations have been adversely affected after the devastating debacle of November 26, 2011.

Meanwhile, Americans have bigger terror plans now with official sanctions.. Pakistan must view the US agenda with some seriousness. USA offers its president sweeping powers to ignite wars directly without having to obtain popular and Congressional approval for any state terror attacks.

American terrocracy is becoming legally too arrogant henceforth. The fascist US lawmakers seek to attack any nation at will- not even on fake threat perceptions used so far and on May 18 introduced a Congressional Bill called “The World War-III Legislation” for empowering and “authorizing the President of the United States to declare World War-III – an endless war with no borders, no clear enemies, to take unilateral military action against all nations, organizations, and persons, both domestically and abroad, who are alleged to be currently or who have in the past supported or engaged in hostilities or who have provided aid in support of hostilities against the United States or any of its coalition allies.” The legislation “removes the requirement of congressional approval for the use of military force and instead gives the President totalitarian dictatorial authority to engage in any and all military actions for an indefinite period of time.” It even gives the President the authority “to launch attacks against American citizens inside the United States with no congressional oversight whatsoever.

The world known defence observers and war experts believe that the World War-III has already been unleashed; USA claims that WW-III is yet to begin and what has been going on under the terror war format is just the rehearsal. Obviously, if extended to water war, Pakistan would remain subjected to WW-III horrors under the well thought-out CIA-Pentagon plan.

By becoming a destabilized nation, Pakistan has also failed its Islamic duty.
Pakistan still helplessly is relying on the US aid and terror goods; Americans do not wage illegal wars for Pakistan and these anti-Islam plotters do not come running to Islamabad to assist with their so-called financial aid!

Musharraf should be brought to justice for his crimes. All other Pakistani leaders responsible for the destabilization of the nation also must be tried in special tribunal with honest judges trying them. Judiciary should expose all grey deals of Pakistanis that harmed the nation.

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism; Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs(CIA); Independent Analyst;Chronicler of Foreign occupations & Freedom movements(Palestine,Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.) Former university Teacher. He can be contacted at abdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com]

BJP may field Muslim candidates in assembly polls for the first time in Gujarat

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 26 September 2012 | Posted in , ,

Ex-DGP Khandwawala among party’s probable candidates
By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

For the first time, the Gujarat BJP is said to be considering fielding Muslim candidates in Assembly elections which includes former DGP Shabbir S Khandwawala and former additional DGP Abullah Ibrahim Saiyed.

The ruling party had not fielded a single Muslim candidate in the 2002 and 2007 Assembly polls.

While state BJP leaders were tightlipped about the candidature of the two former police officers, Saiyed said he was ready to shoulder whatever responsibility the party would give him, including contesting elections. Saiyed was fielded in the 2009 Ahmedabad Municipal corporation (AMC) elections from Muslim-dominated Sarkhej ward but lost to the Congress. The party had projected him as a mayoral candidate.

Khandwawala could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

The BJP had fielded about 200 candidates in district panchayat and other local bodies elections and 160 of them won.

Modi is seen to be keen on mending his anti-Muslim image as he seeks a bigger role on the national stage. If he succeeds, it would also blunt the edge Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has over him in terms of their prime ministerial prospects.

Meanwhile, other major political parties in the state have begun the process to identify the Assembly seats with 15 to 30 per cent of Muslim population to field Muslim candidates there.

The Congress, which has always been a beneficiary of the Muslim votes, is under pressure to field more Muslim candidates this time. Though state Congress leaders say winnability would be the only criterion for allotting tickets, the party’s minority cell in the state is reported to have submitted a list of 14 Muslim candidates. In 2007 elections, Congress had given tickets to five Muslim candidates and all of them had won — three from Ahmedabad city alone, one from Wankaner in Rajkot and another from Vagra in Bharuch district.

The JD-U, which on Saturday declared to contest 50 Assembly seats in the state in polls due at the end of the year, has is fielding candidates from constituencies with some Muslim population. Its national general secretary Chandra Raj Singhvi, who is in the state, told reporters that Muslims were natural allies of his party. He had also brought along with him a senior JD-U Muslim leader from Bihar, Javed Raza, to make inroads into the Muslim electorate.

The Samajwadi Party, which too has decided to contest Assembly polls in the state, is set to field candidates from Muslim-dominated constituencies.

Its state unit president Surendra Yadav, who hails from Azamgarh in UP, has been very active for the last few months.

There was a time when BJP would not even distribute election voters' slips in Muslim areas in Gujarat. In 2005, during the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation ( AMC) election campaign, chief minister Narendra Modi's war cry was to abolish Rule of 'begum, badshah aur gulam', referring to the first woman Muslim mayor of Ahmedabad from the Congress at the time, Aneesa Mirza. But now in Sadbhavna mode and one eye on Delhi, Modi is considering giving tickets to Muslim candidates in upcoming assembly elections.

The BJP has conducted a survey of nine seats in the state with more than 30 percent Muslim voters. These include Dariapur, Jamalpur, Vejalpur, Vagra, Abdasa, Bhuj, Vankaner, Danta and Mangrol. Modi is likely to give anywhere between a minimum of two and a maximum of four tickets to Muslim leaders with good academic, religious and administrative backgrounds on these seats.

Among the Muslims that Modi may consider favouring with tickets are two retired senior IPS officers - former director general of police S S Khandvawala and A I Saiyed, who retired as additional director general of police. Some Muslim artists and religious leaders may also be considered.

Claiming that Muslims in BJP-ruled Gujarat are better off than those in other states, the chief minister recently said minorities had been equal beneficiaries of development in the state which "does not practice policy of appeasement".

It should be noted that it is for the first time that Gujarat BJP has got together to chalk out a plan to woo Muslims under Modi, a man accused of complicity in the 2002 post-Godhra riots. With one eye on the 2014 general elections, and his burning ambition to become prime minister, Modi has dropped his hardcore Hindu card, even at the cost of alienating his own Sangh Parivar. It is now left to the voters to decide if this gamble will pay off.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

Modi’s Sadhbhavna Mission, that began a year back, is genuine: Zafar Sareshwala

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

A year ago, Gujarat University Convention Centre was abuzz with security personnel and government officials making arrangements for the three-day extravagant Sadbhavana fast observed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The later months witnessed a debate on a controversies like Modi refusing to wear a skull cap presented by a Muslim cleric and public money being spent on Sadbhavna fasts in various districts. 

As the first Sadbhavna fast completes a year, our Correspondent talked to people about what they felt the entire event was about, a political gimmick or a fast in its true spirit! Advocate I H Syed said, “Till the time Modi wanted to remain as the chief minister, he did not require any Muslim to join him. Now his aspiration of becoming the prime minister has made him realise that he needs the minority’s support, too. It is not the change of heart but change of aspiration. And all this is being expressed by way of Sadbhavna.” 

“Sadbhavna was a political move and nothing has been done in terms of change in the state. He still has a lot of things to prove. If a person fails to act, he cannot compensate by saying sorry,” he added. Advocate Mumtaz Nasir said, “True Sadbhavna will be seen when a Muslim will be able to buy a flat in Vastrapur and such areas. He talks about unity but when it comes to living together in the same neighbourhood, true Sadbhavna is missing.” 

Managing Director of Parsoli Corporation Zafar Sareshwala said, “Modi’s Sadhbhavna Mission, that began a year back, is genuine and it won’t be right on anyone’s part to find motive behind it. We wish it continues as this will change the tradition of elections in India which is most of the times base on caste or creed. People will vote on the policies of the party.” Sareshwala feels that in the last five years Gujarat government’s approach towards Muslims has been very positive. Even the recent conviction/ judgment by the special court has proved that Muslims can get justice in Gujarat, he added. 

Shiv Visvanathan, renowned social scientist, believes that Modi’s Sadhbhavna mission has not worked in Gujarat. He said, “Modi’s mission didn’t capture the moment. It was like he held court in the name of Sadhhavana. Modi’s Sadhbhavana would have worked for outsiders and aided his prime ministerial ambition, but it didn’t work in Gujarat where is the chief minsiter.” Iscon Group MD Jateen Gupta feels that Modi has become more popular among Muslims after he began Sadhbhavna Mission. 

“His effort has touched many hearts and only because of his effort, BJP’s perception among Muslims in Gujarat has changed for the better,” he said.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

Let’s stop the freedom to abuse

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

Muslims should work on a universal law through international statutes that make it a clear criminal act when race, religion or ethnicity is so publicly affronted

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Muslims the world over have been aggrieved; their sense and sensibility attacked by the promotion of a vile video clip grossly insulting their religion and the Prophet (PBUH). Yet, in spite of the illusion of Muslims gone wild, as depicted by the wide coverage in the media of protesting crowds, reaction has been relatively restrained when one considers that there are more than one billion Muslims on the planet.

That does not mean there is no anger. But in many quarters, that anger is beginning to focus peacefully towards responding to the organs that carry such hateful messages rather than resorting to uncontrolled bursts of violence against western countries.

One such movement is being promoted by a Saudi, M.B. who in his message says:

When black people are attacked, they call it “Racism”,

When Jewish people are attacked, they call it “Anti-Semitism”,

When women are attacked, they call it “Gender discrimination”,

When homosexuality is attacked, they call it “Intolerance”,

When their country is attacked, they call it “Terrorism”, 

When a religious sect is attacked, they call it “Hate speech”,

But when our religion and the dignity of our beloved Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is attacked, Google and YouTube call it “Freedom of Expression”!

His message continues: “I respect the US freedom of speech policy on the domestic market although completely against such freedom on a foreign policy basis, especially if it promotes ethnic and religious hate globally. Having said that, Google, which owns YouTube, is surely a promoter of ‘hate’ as they refused to take off the video made on Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)” after the US government had asked them to do so without success. Their management is surely anti-Islamic to say the least. FYI, YouTube has taken down many hated and objectionable videos off its portal tonnes of times!”

Photo Courtesy: Luis Vazquez/Gulf News
He goes on to suggest: “Let us stop using Google and YouTube immediately! I strongly suggest that we use Yahoo! as a search engine and use Hotmail or Yahoo! or MSN for mailing.”

An Egyptian expatriate in Saudi Arabia, A.M., added: “As I was thinking about this despicable (not even third-rate) but sinister YouTube clip and listening to all the pundits while they gracefully deplored the piece, at the same time invoking protection of free speech. Here is the puzzling thing. I know that it is a crime — yes, a crime by law — if a person writes anything questioning the holocaust. Free speech notwithstanding I am sure you have heard about several cases of writers who were indicted and accused for doing so. So why not we, as Muslims, get together and work on passing a law? I know it may take years and years, but one thing that no one can ever take away from us is TIME!”

The laws are already in the books. Although it was pushed primarily to cover the denial of the holocaust, the European Parliament agreed in Luxembourg in April 2007 to Article 1 of the Common Framework Decision which states that:

Each member state shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the following intentional conduct is punishable:

(A) Publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.

(B) The commission of an act referred to in point (A) by public dissemination or distribution of facts, pictures or other material.

(D) Publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising the crimes ... directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, where the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred against such a group or a member of such a group.

However, do such laws apply to Muslims and Islam? Are they enforced when Muslims are affronted by hate motivated actions? No! Affronts to our religion are quickly dismissed under the “freedom of expression” umbrella. That is why France appears impotent in enforcing its anti-hate laws when Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] is insulted by caricatures that were released just days following the initial furore over the video clip.

Or why another provocative action against Muslims is to be promoted in New York’s subway systems, an advertisement that blatantly carries the message: “In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” The implications are very clear — Israelis are civilised, while Arabs are savage jihadists. Although the subway authority initially ruled against the running of the advertisements, a US District Court judge ruled last month that it is protected speech under the First Amendment.
Herein lurks the hypocrisy that underlines a lot of anger and resentment. Why is it that historians and academics are immediately brought to trial and face imprisonment when they question some historical aspects of the holocaust? Why is the concept of freedom of speech not invoked then in their defence? Is it okay to continue taking potshots at Islam and Muslims?

It is time for wiser and calmer heads to prevail. Muslims should work on a universal law through international statutes that make it a clear criminal act when race, religion or ethnicity is so publicly affronted. No more freedom to abuse!

[Tariq A. Al-Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.]

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

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