India must move towards MMP electoral system, say experts at Int’l workshop in Berlin

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 October 2011 | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Realizing the urgent need for electoral reforms in India towards a proportionate electoral system, the Campaign for Electoral Reforms in India (CERI) and the Platform-Dalit Solidarity in Germany together organized an International Workshop of experts on electoral systems from Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nepal and India.

The experts deliberated on the disadvantages of the British model of the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system for a fast changing India and came to a conclusion that India must move at the earliest towards a Mixed Member Proportionate electoral system (MMP).

According to a Press release this Workshop was held in Berlin on October 17,18 and 19. The Press release was jointly issued by Mr. Walter Hahn and Mr. M. C. Raj, Coordinators of Platform-Dalit Solidarity in Germany, Stuttgart, Germany & CERI, Tumkur, India respectively.

The Indian delegation also included a member of the Upper House in India. These scholars were earlier involved in one way or other in the many researches that CERI did in all these countries.

Technical details of implementing the MMP to the context of India have also been worked out by experts and will be brought out as a tailor-made policy document for India. Armed with such a document CERI plans to make the next moves for electoral reforms in the Parliament of India, the release said.

Meanwhile, from India Dr. Arshi Khan, Associate Professor in Department of Political Science in Aligarh Muslim University, presented the case for increasing the strength of Lok Sabha and to introduce Proportional Representation electoral system for making Indian Parliament more conducive to different sections of society.

Dr. Khan also reportedly said that the experiences of representation since 1951-1952 has strengthened the majoritarian model ignoring the rights of minorities particularly Muslim community. It is important to change the strength and nature of Lok Sabha so that it could be really representative of the people, mainly of the weaker sections, he emphasized.

Even the Dalit parties under the FPTP electoral system, members of Parliament seem to be loyal to Party rather than the community. There must be a change for the good of the country, he added.

Meanwhile, the release stated that India is the largest democracy in the world. One recognizes that it is a multi-cultural society, which is in need of very special measures for democratic governance. The complex reality of Indian society makes it difficult even for experts to develop a clear understanding of the undercurrents that guide its destiny. However, India’s electoral system is neither an undercurrent nor a complex reality. The praxis of the FPTP electoral system in India has further accentuated the intricacies of its governance. Politically speaking India has arrived at an era of coalition politics. One may not see a reversal of this coalition politics in the near future. It is a well recognized truth that FPTP system of elections is best suited for countries that have two party system, the release contended.

The release said: “FPTP electoral system vogue in India is a legacy borrowed from the British. India has come a long way in its political life from the time it got independence from the British. It is now a major player in the Asian economic scenario. However, the representative nature of its democratic governance leaves much to be desired in terms of the results it produces for more than a billion of its people. India, with its multi-party system and coalition politics is in dire need of changing its electoral system to a more inclusive representative system that also addresses the needs of coalition politics in a multi-cultural society”.

Later on, Dr. Arshi Khan attended a conference on Ataturk and Turkey organized by the Government of Turkey and the Macedonian Academy of Science and Arts from October 17-22 in the historic city of Bitola of Macedonia. There he presented a paper on Turkish foreign policy showing difference between the period of Ataturk and the present period.

While, it may be mentioned here that Mr. M C Raj is a well-known writer in India with more than 15 published books. He writes on philosophy, psychology, spirituality, politics etc. He is a frequent international traveller giving lectures in different universities and Conferences. He is a reputed social activist with the latest Karmaveer Puraskar award and Ambedkar International Literary Award. He generally writes on Dalit issues and is an international opinion leader. He leads a powerful Dalit Movement in Karnataka.

Having done three researches in Germany, Norway and New Zealand he has initiated a major national campaign for electoral reforms in India known as CERI. He has brought together Indigenous communities in ten countries in a historic First Round Table of the World Parliament of Indigenous Peoples. He has also started Booshakthi Kendra, the first ever Dalit Ashram in India.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Book Gujarat cops for neglect during riots: Amicus curiae

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

In another first for communal violence cases, amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran has proposed criminal action against senior police officers for causing death by negligence during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

By Manoj Mitta

New Delhi: It was not just a recommendation for a chargesheet against Narendra Modi, In another first for communal violence cases, amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran proposed criminal action against senior police officers for causing death by negligence during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Responding to reports emanating from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in Ahmedabad, informed sources in Delhi clarified that the chargesheet recommended by Ramachandran against the chief minister was not for any speeches in the public but on the basis of suspended police officer Sanjiv Bhatt's allegation that he had given anti-Muslim directions to the top brass of Gujarat police on the eve of the post-Godhra mass killings.

According to these sources, the amicus appointed by the Supreme Court said in his July report that Bhatt's allegation could not be brushed aside at this stage merely because the other officers present in that fateful meeting of February 27, 2002 had either pleaded amnesia or denied his very presence at that meeting in Modi's residence. Ramachandran also disagreed with SIT's view that Bhatt could not believe because of his own allegedly controversial record and for the nine-year delay coming up with his disclosure.

The amicus apparently said that Bhatt's testimony deserved to be taken into account by the SIT because the officer could well have been present at the meeting as the sole representative of the intelligence wing and he had anyway explained that the delay was caused by his inability to make any disclosure until he was legally required to reveal what he had gathered in the course of his intelligence work.

Though the amicus did not expressly say that Modi should be chargesheeted on Bhatt's testimony, it was the "necessary implication" of his recommendation that Bhatt and all the officers contradicting him be put in the witness box and subjected to cross examination in order to find out the truth about Modi's instructions to the police. The question of testing the veracity of these witnesses in the course of the trial would not arise, sources pointed out, unless Modi is charge sheeted for his alleged conduct at the meeting.

The report to the Supreme Court containing Ramachandran's independent assessment of the material on record said that on Bhatt's testimony, Modi was prima facie liable to be tried under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code: 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153B (imputations prejudicial to national integration), 166 (public servant disobeying law with intent to cause injury to others) and 505 (statement provoking public mischief).

In his July report, the amicus curiae also disagreed with the SIT's opinion that senior police officers such as MK Tandon and PB Gondia deserved no more than departmental action for their lapses in preventing or controlling the Gulberg Society massacre. Ramachandran said that there was enough evidence to charge them under Section 304A IPC, which penalizes death caused by negligence.

Sources said that the amicus however agreed with the SIT's conclusion that no criminal action could be taken against Modi for his infamous "kriya pratikriya" statement to a TV channel, invoking Newton's third law as a justification for the government's failure to curb the killings allegedly provoked by the Godhra train massacre.

As for media reports from Ahmedabad that SIT has asked the amicus curiae to appear as a witness in the trial court dealing with the Gulberg case, Ramachandran told TOI on Saturday that he hadn't so far received such a communication, adding "I will cross the bridge when I come to it". There are however indications that Ramachandran might then move the apex court for a clarification that he could not be cited as a witness as he had done no independent investigation and recorded no separate evidence, even when he had visited Ahmedabad under judicial orders to interact with witnesses already examined by SIT.

(Courtesy: The Times of India, October 23, 2011)

Madhya Pradesh leads in country in implementation of Right to Education Act

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh is first in the country in the implementation of Right to Education Act. Glory sagas of daughters would be included in school course from the next academic session. Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan has instructed to give cheques for cycles as Diwali gift to all the eligible children.

Mr. Chouhan was reviewing School Education Department here today. School Education Minister Smt. Archana Chitnis and Minister of State Mr. Nanabhau Mohod were also present at the meeting.

The meeting was informed that Madhya Pradesh has topped in the country by getting about 1.5 lakh children admitted to schools under Right to Education Act. The Chief Minister stressed the need to give maximum attention to children's education. He said that lessons glorifying daughters should be included in courses for Class 9 to 12. The courses should have lessons from Mr. Mandan Mishra's wife Mrs. Bharti up to Kalpana Chawla.

Madhya Pradesh will once again launch “Shala Chalo Abhiyan”. Mr. Chouhan said that the target of sending cent per cent children to schools should be achieved in the state. He instructed for constant monitoring for effective educational arrangements. He enquired about monitoring undertaken by School Education Department. Mr. Chouhan instructed departmental ministers and senior officers to undertake inspections. He said that he will himself undertake tours of various areas to review Education Department's activities.

The meeting was informed that this year 31 percent more children have been admitted to class 9. The work of distributing cycles could not be accomplished due to rise in the number of eligible children. The Chief Minister said that children should be given cycles with the start of academic session. He said that the department should provide cycles to eligible children as Diwali gift from any other of its funds. Rs. 20 crore budget as expected by the department will be arranged.

The meeting was informed that the Directorate of Public Instructions spent Rs. 77 crore 40 lakh against the target of Rs. 83 crore 61 lakh. A sum of Rs. 1992.64 crore has been spent by the Rajya Shiksha Kendra in first 9 months of the current fiscal, which is 58 per cent more than that of last year.

The meeting was informed that teaching work is being affected due to receipt of less funds from the Union government under various heads. Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan said that he will urge Union Human Resources Minister Mr. Kapil Sibbal to make funds available. He will also make an appeal to open schools in the state's cities on the basis of population.

The meeting was informed that promotion orders of high school principals will be issued within a month. The meeting was also informed about constitution of separate cadre of Rajya Shiksha Seva.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

The Powerful, Deep Hold of Black Magic across the Islamic World

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

By Rob L. Wagner

When Tara Umm Omar was a young bride in her first marriage, she and her Moroccan husband took into their home the youngest sister of a family friend. On the day the young Moroccan woman arrived, she gave Umm Omar a doll, which Umm Omar promptly placed in a dresser drawer.

When Umm Omar told a friend of the doll, the friend suspected it was an item for black magic and suggested the doll be destroyed. Instead, Umm Omar tossed it in the garbage. That’s when household items disappeared, the family dog barked incessantly, Umm Omar started fighting with her husband and she began seeing strange insects in the house. When the guest finally moved out, the couple found their bed sheets and an identical doll to Umm Omar’s among the woman’s discarded belongings.

The message to Umm Omar was clear: The woman she invited into her home sought to destroy her happiness through black magic.

Umm Omar is since remarried to a Saudi and now lives in Riyadh. She runs the popular blog, Future Husbands and Wives of Saudis, a help website for non-Saudis marrying Saudis. As a quasi-marriage counselor for brides and grooms nervously entering Saudi society, Umm Omar dispenses religious and practical advice to help ease the cultural shock. That includes providing insight to the real world concerns of black magic and evil eye.

“The truth is that all magic is haram (prohibited) and only leads to bad ends,” Umm Omar told The Media Line.

Belief in black magic runs deep in Saudi society. The issue was raised last month when the quasi-legislative body Shoura Council granted permission for Moroccan women to work as maids in Saudi households. Hundreds of Saudi women complained to the Council that granting Moroccan maids permission to work was tantamount to allowing the use of black magic in their homes to steal their husbands. Saudi wives complained the issue was not lacking trust in their husbands, but their men were powerless to ward off spells.

While greeted with skepticism in western societies, Saudis would no more question the existence of black magic than they would Islam. Two surahs (chapters) in the Qur’an under Al Mi’wadhatyan address black magic and are often recited during or after prayer. Simply, part of being a Muslim is believing in the existence of magic.

In April of this year, members of the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice underwent special training in the Eastern Province to investigate black magic crimes.

Although also found in Christianity and Judaism, casting spells is particularly common in Oman, Sudan, Yemen, Morocco and Indonesia. Turkey is a secular Muslim country, but protection against evil eye is deeply rooted in virtually all aspects of daily life. Tools of witchcraft include using lizards, dead birds, photographs, hair, thread, dirt, blood and red ink. Hiding places to place the “spell” may be in bedrooms and under beds. Written spells generally contain the intended victim’s name and one or two words to state the intention to do harm.

In 2007, the religious police in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, removed 23 black magic tokens, including knives and written spells on paper, from two graves in a cemetery. Black magic artists placed the tokens at the heads and feet of the corpses.

The Saudi press reported recently that evil eye was suspected in causing the death of Mastoora Al-Ahmadi, the Saudi poet who garnered international attention for her performance on “The Million’s Poet” on Abu Dhabi TV. She was the first woman to reach the semifinals in the Arabic poetry contest. Al-Ahmadi died unexpectedly on Oct. 2 in Madinah after falling into a coma.

Howaizan Muhammad, 26, of Madinah told The Media Line that she had difficulty finding a job and failed in many interviews. And she hated the jobs she did find. She broke up with her fiancé and couldn’t find a husband. “My sister told me to read the surah Al-Baqarah to protect me against any spells,” she says. “After 14 days, my father found a spell written on paper and in blood with my name on it on the roof under our water tank.”

Muhammad says she had Indonesian maids at the time, but notes that anybody could have left the spell.

Sheikh Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, an Islamic scholar based in Qatar and the author of The Exorcist Tradition in Islam, told The Media Line that Muslims must not fight witchcraft with their own magic but refer to the Qur’an. “There are a number of Qur’anic texts that the Prophet said should be read with reflection as a means of removing or reducing the effects of black magic,” he says. “Eating adjuwah dates from Madinah is also a means of protection.”

He notes there is a tendency to fight magic with magic, but it’s prohibited. “People should avoid charms, amulets and other things that people have proffered, which has become something of a business in the Muslim world.”

Philips acknowledges that Moroccans have an “international reputation” among Muslims for practicing witchcraft, but cautions against overemphasizing Moroccans as master artists of voodoo. “Historically they (Moroccans) are most noted for it. But they are not much different than most in the Muslim world. Chechnya and Bosnia probably engage in it more.”

Although Saudis may claim that witchcraft is at the heart of their distrust of foreign maids, Umm Omar suggests that old-fashioned power struggles and jealously play vital roles in conflicts.

“There is a factor that Saudis are more well-to-do than Moroccans and magic can be used to remove those blessings (of wealth) if (maids) dislike them,” Umm Omar says. “Saudi women are used to feeling superior over maids, and in some cases look down on them. Moroccan women do not like to be pushed around and will defend themselves. My experience with Moroccan and Saudi women is they both like to be in charge of the household and are naturally bossy.”

Umm Omar adds that if a maid feels threatened, she could resort to black magic. “Of course that is not to say that a Saudi woman won’t seek out magic to harm a Moroccan maid.”

Left unsaid in this battle of wills between Saudi and Moroccan women is the consequences of practicing black magic in Saudi Arabia. Practicing witchcraft is an offense punishable by death.

Saudi religious police arrested popular Lebanese television personality and fortuneteller Ali Sabat in May 2008 on charges of witchcraft while he was on a pilgrimage. A Saudi court sentenced him to death. But an appellate court threw out the sentence in 2010, citing lack of evidence that Sabat harmed anybody. According to Amnesty International, the last documented execution for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia was in 2007. A Saudi court sentenced Egyptian pharmacist Mustafa Ibrahim to death for casting spells in order to separate a married couple.

“Fortune telling is not just sleight of hand tricks, but involves the spirit,” says Philips. “As evil, it’s the same thing as black magic. Sharia (Islamic law) proscribes the same punishment for both.”

Umm Omar points to ignorance and the absence of a strong foundation in the teachings of Islam that lead some Muslims to practice magic and evil eye.

Although Philips says that ignorance is no excuse for breaking laws, forgiveness should be considered. “God does forgive ignorance,” he says. “We should be more tolerant in some cases because some people are not doing (harmful) things deliberately.”

This article was originally published by The Media Line.

(Courtesy: MideastPosts.com)

Offences on Facebook could be punishable

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 20 October 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Social media is for networking, but then some can even use this as a mischief and attempt to create hatred among communities which in turn may have lead to civil unrest.

This is exactly what has happened in Hyderabad, where some anti-social elements studying in St.Francis Xavier Degree College at Kachiguda, posted some inflammatory photos of Holy Kaaba on the Facebook.

The photos clearly desecrated the modesty of Holy Kaaba, the most revered place of worship for the followers of the Islamic faith.

It was timely action by some social activist and an upright police officer that defused the situation which had all the ingredients to flare up into a full fledged communal riot.

The Muslim students of the St.Francis Xavier Degree College brought this matter to the notice of the Amjed Ullah Khan, Corporator 35-Azampura Division, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

Mr Khan immediately lodged a complaint against such activities going on the Facebook, at the police station Kachiguda, Hyderabad.

In his complaint Mr. Khan urged the police to take immediate action against those students who had indulged in hate monger at the social media site, that has the third largest population in the word after China and India.

Mr Khan has also urged action against the management of the degree college for having such kind of anti social elements as its students.

After registering the complaint, the police swung into action and visited the college along with Mr.Khan. They were quickly able to identify the anti-social elements of the college as Abhishek Totla, Neeraj Jhawar, Deepesh Agarwal. The trio was arrested on the charges of trying to create hatred among the communities.

The management of the college cooperated with the police, fearing the men in uniform. The college Principal Mr. Bhujang Rao immediately issued Transfer Certificate to the students and handed them over to the police.

The prompt action of the Inspector of Police at the Kachiguda police station should be appreciated. It is due to his prompt action of going to the college, identifying the real culprits and arresting them defused a highly volatile situation in Muslim dominated city like Hyderabad.

This case serves as an example for all those who take for granted the social media sites as a play field and think can get away with what ever they may like to do there.

This case also sends out a strong message to the users of the social media that their anti social activities on such sites could be registered as a cognizable offence.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

Ex-Olympian Aslam Sher only Indian to be felicitated in Malaysia on Oct. 21

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Former hockey Olympian Aslam Sher Khan, who has been dabbling with politics after retirement, will be felicitated in Malaysia on October 21 for his contribution to the game of hockey.

According to Aslam Sher, who hails from Bhopal which used to be the nursery of hockey, he has received an invitation from the Asian Sports Journalists Association of Malaysia to take part in an event celebrating the seventies. He would be felicitated at that event. The two-day October 21-22 event has been christened as “Vietnam War, the Beatles and Sports highlighted the seventies”.

Aslam Sher Khan, who was a member of 1975 Hockey World Cup winning Indian team, said he felt honoured to be the only Indian sporting personality to be invited to the event. He would be leaving for Malaysia on October 20.

Talking to this Correspondent he said: “I am really happy to be felicitated for a performance that brought glory to my country and fetched the only World Cup hockey title for India way back in 1975”. He claimed that the decade of 1970 belonged to him.

“I played hockey with total dedication with a killer instinct as my brought up approach was to excel which was instilled in me by my father. My father Aslam Sher Khan was also an hockey Olympian having played the game in the company of Indian hockey wizard Major Dhyan ‘Chand’ Singh in Berlin Olympics which India won”, Aslam Sher said nostalgically.

Meanwhile, it may be mentioned here that Aslam Sher Khan, who was born July 15, 1953, helped the Indian Hockey team to win the gold medal in the 1975 World Cup held at Kuala Lumpur by scoring the winning goal. He as a member of Indian team also participated in Munich Olympics held in the 1972. He played hockey as a full back. He authored an autobiography titled "To Hell with Hockey".

Aslam Sher's father Ahmed Sher Khan also represented India in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics. As he said in his autobiography about his grandfather's saying, "Your father had a streak of madness in him, Like you, he had a great obsession for hockey. He made your mother promise that if they had a son, she would bring him up to be a hockey player."

Ahmed Sher Khan was the Hockey coach of Aslam's school but never selected Aslam to play for the school team. When he asked his father about this thing he replied "you still have a lot to learn."

Aslam Sher in the year 1966, was called up for the All India schools hockey camp at Bhopal. But his father fell ill at that time. He did not want to join the camp but his father motivated him by saying "The more you play, and the better you play, the more I`ll know you love me."

That reverberated like an order to Aslam Sher and he went to join the camp. He was selected in the All-India schools hockey team as a forward under the famous hockey player Roop Singh, who played with his father in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Hearing this selection news, his father went on crying. At the age of 13, Ahmed Sher died. Aslam Sher Khan's ambition was to represent his own country in hockey in the Olympics like his father.

Meanwhile, Aslam Sher Khan has also been a Congress Member of Parliament and a Union Minister as well. After retirement he joined politics and was elected to the 8th Lok Sabha in 1984 as an Indian National Congress from Betul constituency in Madhya Pradesh. He contested from Betul constituency again in 1989, but he lost. He was re-elected to the 10th Lok Sabha from the same constituency in 1991 but again lost in 1996.

In December 1997, Aslam Sher joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), but resigned from the party on January 27, 1999.

In 2004, he contested from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency as a Nationalist Congress Party candidate but lost again. In 2009, he contested from Sagar Lok Sabha constituency as a Congress candidate but could not win.

Aslam Sher obtained bachelors degree in science from Saifia College, Bhopal. On 25 October 1981, Aslam married Rehana Sher Khan and they have two sons. The youngest son is called Akbar Sher Khan. He is a New York Attorney.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Who is a terrorist?

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

By Niaz Murtaza

One finds little legal guidance on this knotty question since the international community has yet to develop a legal definition given terrorism’s politically charged nature. Terrorism literally means using terror as a strategy.

This definition would cover psychopaths mutilating hapless victims for immediate pleasure; husbands abusing their wives to exact future compliance; and landlords, criminals and political organisations threatening larger populations in pursuing their divergent goals.

Clearly, this definition is too broad to be useful. These divergent phenomena deserve either different names or at least recognition as sub-types, e.g., psychopathic, family and political terrorisms. Emulating Uncle Sam, I focus here single-mindedly on political terrorism, the most controversial sub-type.

How does one define that sub-type? Unfortunately, even this is not an easy task. My academic peers, as divided as international officials, have generated over a hundred different definitions. Fortunately, most disagreements are over details and semantics. There is some agreement that political terrorism’s core elements include ‘deliberately physically attacking non-combatants in pursuing political goals, even if the goals are just’. This working definition can help in analysing the complexities of political terrorism.

Firstly, are freedom fighters not terrorists? Those deliberately targeting non-combatants would be considered terrorists under this definition. Freedom fighters facing stronger armies often start targeting non-combatants and justify their repugnant means by arguing the justness of their goal. Under this definition though, ends do not justify means. Thus, many resistance movements globally, e.g., in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Colombia, engage in terrorism.

While Uncle Sam may think otherwise, the Mujahideen of the first Afghan war were as much terrorists as those of the second Afghan war since they often targeted non-combatants. However, this is merely a judgment on the means and not the ultimate aims of these groups around the globe. As the ANC’s transformation in South Africa reveals, terrorist groups with worthy goals can win international support by abandoning terrorism. The Arab Spring shows that freedom fighters can dislodge tyrants without not only terrorism but also major violence. Conversely, terrorism has a sorry success rate to date.

Secondly, do states commit terrorism? If they inadvertently kill non-combatants during combat, they do not commit terrorism but they could be guilty of war crimes, an equally serious offence, if they do not follow the international laws for protecting non-combatants during war. Cases where low-level soldiers deliberately target non-combatants would constitute individual terrorism and possibly state war crimes.

State terrorism only occurs when top officials materially support terrorists or order soldiers to deliberately target non-combatants. Thus, the civilian casualties caused inadvertently by the Americans in Iraq during combat cannot be considered terrorism, though some of them may constitute war crimes. However, the torture of prisoners, duly approved by top Bush-era officials, certainly constituted state terrorism as did the Hiroshima bombing, probably the most destructive single terrorist attack ever.

Thirdly, who is responsible for the thousands killed by terrorism in Pakistan? Some people hold the Pakistani and American governments culpable arguing that their policies provoke militants into terrorism. ‘Provocation’ is actually a legal term which can be used to mitigate certain crimes. British women who kill highly abusive husbands while facing further direct trauma can claim provocation in defence, but merely to request a lighter sentence.

Furthermore, they are not given a licence to just kill anyone in retaliation nor can relatives of even murdered women invoke provocation in killing murderer husbands.
Given these stringent requirements, can someone from Fata, even if he or she unfortunately loses a non-combatant relative to American or Pakistani army action, justifiably claim provocation if he or she travels all the way to Islamabad or Karachi to exact revenge on non-combatants instead of taking the shorter journey to the perpetrators and courts? Clearly, from a criminal justice viewpoint, legal culpability lies with those planning, executing and materially supporting terrorism.

True, beyond the realms of criminal justice, there is the question of political responsibility. Viewed so, both governments have indirectly contributed to terrorism. However, that political culpability cannot lessen the legal culpability of terrorists. There are more sensible avenues available for protesting bad government policies, such as peaceful protests and courts.

Thus, it is ironic to see a populist Pakistani politician linking terrorism primarily to drone attacks when he chooses for himself instead the legal (and personally safer!) option of peaceful protests against drone attacks.

There are appropriate responses to inappropriate acts and there are inappropriate ones. Those committing inappropriate responses deserve appropriate punishment, like those committing the original inappropriate act. Thus, the only basis for peace with the TTP should be their unconditional surrender and submission to justice.

Finally, is terrorism linked to particular religions? Biased analysts claim that though not all Muslims are terrorists, almost all terrorists are Muslim. Facts easily disprove this misrepresentation. While Al Qaeda has attracted the most attention since it targets the West, highly egregious terrorism has been committed more frequently by others in recent history. Some even committed it in the name of religion, e.g., the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa routinely attacks villages, chopping men’s limbs, killing thousands, raping women in front of their families and keeping them as mistresses.

Others were committed in the name of nationalism and ideology, e.g., the Rwandan, ex-Yugoslavian and Cambodian civilian massacres. However, these barbarisms do not reflect the original teachings of those religions or ideologies, just as Al Qaeda’s barbarism does not reflect Islamic teachings. In Islam, whoever kills an innocent person is though as he killed all mankind. Non-combatants were granted amnesty during the 630 AD Mecca conquest. Sick minds, not religions, produce terrorism. Hence, religious terrorism is an oxymoron which should be discarded.

Thus, an objective analysis of terrorism requires a clear definition, which may not suit major powers. So, under Bush, the American definition degenerated into ‘whoever we consider one’. Second, it must be grounded in facts, not biases. Third, it requires differentiating between immediate and indirect causes. To date, these simple requirements have eluded global policymakers.

[Niaz Murtaza is political economist at the University of California, Berkeley. He can be contacted at murtazaniaz@yahoo.com]

(Courtesy: Dawn, Pakistan)

Stage all set for 1st batch of Hajj pilgrims from MP to take off from Bhopal

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Stage is all set for the first batch of pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh state for Hajj 2011 to fly off to Jeddah from the state capital Bhopal’s Raja Bhoj International Airport on Wednesday (October 19).

In all 4,410 Hajj pilgrims would undertake pilgrimage this year from Madhya Pradesh. Apart from Bhopal Hajj pilgrims would embark from Indore also. All preparations for the purpose at the transit point located in the historical Taj-ul-Masajid complex and at Bhopal’s Raja Bhoj Airport, the embarkation point have been completed. In Indore the temporary Hajj House-cum- transit-point would be based at Al Shifa hospital.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday Madhya Pradesh State Hajj Committee, (MPSHC), chairman Dr. Sanawwar Patel said that the Bharatiya Janata Party ruled state Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan will flag of the buses carrying the Hajj pilgrims from the transit point at Taj-ul-Masajid complex at 9 am. While former Chief Minister and Member of Parliament Mr. Kailash Joshi will flag off the aircraft carrying the pilgrims from the embarkation point at Raja Bhoj Airport at 12.20 pm.

Dr. Patel informed that nine flights carrying 245 pilgrims each would take off from the Bhopal and Indore each. From Bhopal the flight schedule is from October 19 to 26 while from Indore it is between October 26 to 30. From Bhopal there would be one flight from October 19 to 24 daily while there would be two flights on October 25 and one last flight on October 26. In the first Hajj flight there will be 234 pilgrims from Bhopal while remaining 11 are from Mahakoshal region of the state.

Dr. Patel revealed that taking cognizance from the previous experiences MPSHC has provided photographs and mobile numbers of the Khadim ul Hujjaj (volunteers to assist pilgrims during pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia) to the Hajj pilgrims so that at time of help they could contact volunteers. He said that MPSHC has obtained 15 pre-activated SIM cards from Saudi Arabia that would be handed over to the volunteers. The SIM cards have been checked and are in working condition. The step has been taken as it was the common complaint of pilgrims after returning from pilgrimage that volunteers never turn up, he added.

Ten Khadim-ul-Hujjaj who are in the state government service are being send with pilgrims by the Madhya Pradesh Government for their welfare.

He said that the responsibility of serving the pilgrims at the embarkation point at the airport and transit point has been assigned again to the Tablighi Jamaat volunteers who carried out their duty very well last year also when Bhopal came on the Hajj embarkation map of the country for the first time.

MPSHC Executive Officer Mr. Dawood Khan, who was also present at the Press conference, said nine flights which would take off from both Bhopal and Indore will carry 2,205 passengers each. He said that adding together seats available under different quotas 4,410 Hajj pilgrims would undertake pilgrimage this year from the State.

There is a substantial rise in the Hajj applications from the State. In all 16,184 applications were received by the state Hajj committee this year. The Hajj Committee of India has allotted 3374 seats in the open category.

Meanwhile, Hajj transit point in Bhopal at Taj-ul-Masajid complex is humming with activities where pilgrims along with their family members and friends are pouring in. They were seen arriving from various part of the state in flower bedecked motor vehicles.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

The Yatra No One Talked About

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

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Much hullabaloo was made of Anna Hazare’s fast against anti corruption, so was about Narender Modi’s fast for communal harmony. LK Advani’s yatra too has attracted a great deal of attention. However, has anyone heard about the communal harmony Yatra (travel) that concluded in New Delhi on October 16, 2011. I guess very few.

It’s unfortunate that such meaningful and positive development in the country is not being reported by the media which in turn prefers to feed the staple of news that may loosely called infotainment.

It's long well established that Indian media is bourgeoisie in character, but now what is becoming apparent is the total lack of moral and ethical values in media representation. If this gradual decline goes unabated the designers of national character may be guilty of acts beyond our comprehension.

Leaving this thought for an introspection, let me talk about this secular yatra that began from the pious town of Ayodhya on October 11 and concluded at the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin in New Delhi on October 16.

This was the fourth edition of this yatra and persons from various parts of the country led this march to the national capital cherishing the ideal of peaceful existence. Whether these people were successful in their mission is difficult to profess, but the fact remains that they strived to bridge the communal divide in our country, is laudable indeed.

The yatra was led by Ayodhya’s famous mahant of Ayodhya Yugal Kishor Shastri who has been tirelessly working for communal harmony in India. Last year, he took out a similar yatra among various communities from Ayodhya to Sewagram in Wardha.

I had the privilege of interviewing Mr Shastri at an interfaith conference in New Delhi last year where he narrated to me how he sheltered the fleeing Muslims being chased by the Hindutva goons during the demolition of Babari mosque in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. “I have buried many Muslim bodies with my own hand in that communal madness,” said the inconcipious mahant, in a whispering tone. He brings out a magazine Ayodhya ki Awaz to promote the values of peace and harmony.

Talking to Yugal Kishor Shastri, I wondered, how some swamy's and mahant's become national figures and amass huge wealth and followers in this country, while those who are genuinely godly persons, remain a naked fakir like Mr Shastri. Again, I leave this thought left for self introspection.

The communal harmony yatra started from Ayodhya on 11th October, 2011. It went to Faizabad and from there reached Lucknow on 12th October, Sitapur on October 13, Shahjahanpur on October 15, spent the night at Moradabad and arrived at Delhi in the morning of October 16, covering a distance of 490 kilometres by road.

There were twenty members in this yartra and number of programmes of mass contact was organized all along the travel route. It included conferences, street plays and press meets and contacting people, especially the youth.

The aim of the yatra was to propagate the idea of shared culture heritage among different communities. It was to tell that the shared history of living together among different communities is of much longer then the momentary phases of conflict and disharmony.

The starting point of the yatra was the temple town of Ayodhya, where the Hindu- Muslim conflict over a disputed mosque has sown the seeds of communal hatred in the country. The place was chosen because it was Ayodhya where five religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism have their roots and all existed side by side.

The city once was an oasis of communal coexistence and there was perfect harmony among the communities living there. The raking up the issue of Ramjanamboohmi was a deliberate attempt to destroy this plural culture of Ayodhya and making that as a symbol, it has rattled the secular character of the country.

Even more than twenty years to that event, the seeds of hatred that has sown around this mosque/temple controversy, has poisoned the relationship among the communities so much so that it is hard break free from that cluttered mindset.

The yatra was taken out to combat such preachers of hate and to propagate the idea of shared cultural history. The purpose of the yatra was to resist the forces of fascism, communalism and untouchability. It was to promote idea of peace, unity and brotherhood.

All along during the yatra, programmes of mass contact were held where it was stressed that the country is in the dire need of communal harmony. Th development and progress of the country is only possible when an atmosphere of love and harmony is created and this could be done by knitting the people together.

The yatra concluded at the hospice of Hazrat Nizamuddin, a towering sufi saint of India, whose most popular phrase was “ do not give me scissor because it cuts, give me needle because it stitches.”

The members of the yatra later paid tribute to the soul of Mahatma Gandhi at the Rajghat in New Delhi. They prayed for the communal peace and harmony in the country at the monument of the father of the nation, who fell to the bullets of lunatic Hindu chauvinist.

A conference on communal harmony was organized at the Gandhi Samriti at Rajghat where most of the speakers stressed on ways and means to promote communal harmony in India. Some prominent speakers were; Asghar Ali Engineer, Lalit Kumar, Haneef Shastri, Zafarul-Islam Khan, Mazher Hussain, Saroj Khan Choudhry, Deepak Singh and Muhammad Afzal.

Communalism Combat (Teesta Sitalvad), Viswa Yuva Sadbhavana Parishad (Seshnath Dubey), Asha Parivar ( Sandeep Pandey), Ayodhya ki Awaz (Yugal Kishor Saran Shastri), Milli Gazzete (Zafarul Islam Khan), Sarvdharam Sadbhav Kendra Trust (Zafar Saifullah), Confederation of Voluntary Association-Cova (Mazher Hussain), Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Mohammad Ahmad), Rashtriya Yuva Sangathan (Kumar Prashant), Centre for study of Society and Secularism-CCSS (Asghar Ali Engineer) and Centre for Human Rights and Social Welfare (Saroj Khan Choudhry) were some of the prominent organizations associated with this yatra.

India is perhaps the only country in the world where there is mix of several religious identities existing side by side. There is a general desire among various communities to lead a life of peaceful coexistence eve though attempts have been made regular intervals to break this blissful peace. The resilience of the Indian society has always discarded such narrow outlook and have cherished the ideal that all religion have equal place and their followers must live in perfect harmony.

It won’t be out of context to say that in our country there exist two diametrically opposite forces at work. First, those who are working to destroying the communal amity, while the other who are working relentlessly to bridge the communal.

The communal harmony yatra was an attempt to isolate the preachers of hate and to promote the idea to live in peace. It was also an effort to initiate the process of interfaith dialogue to resolve all the outstanding issues in a peaceful manner.

One has to salute those people who have taken such an initiative, and it would be a service to the nation to highlight such a noble cause. One wish that more and more people join in such initiative and this humble beginning may become a movement soon.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

Nepal: Becoming a Muslim Graveyard

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

“History is the witness of peaceful and harmonious living of the Nepali Hindus and Muslims. Unlike India, Nepali Hindus are very much tolerant towards diverse beliefs. Nevertheless in the manner some prominent nationalist Muslim leaders are being targeted and killed in series---is the clear indication that external inimical forces want also to disturb existing religious communal harmony as they did so to Nepali politics in the recent past.”

These are the words of a Muslim leader who actively participated in a two hour long traffic stoppage---making mess of city traffic, organized as a mark of protest in the heart of capital Kathmandu against government’s nonchalant attitude towards bringing to book those criminals involved in the killing of community leader Faizan Ahmed (40) told in the condition of anonymity. The fear factor!

“Broad day light killings of leader Mirza Dil Shad Beg and media entrepreneur Jamim Shah and attempted murder of Yunus Ansari- another media entrepreneur right inside the guarded (?) Central prison is the indication that Nepal will soon turn into a grave yard for the Nepalese Muslim community,” the Muslim leader further commented.

The pretty terrified Muslim community of Nepal had called for a two hour long traffic jam in Kathmandu, Friday October 14, 2011- the day of assemblage, in front of the Jamey Mosque in Rani Pokhari.

To recall, General Secretary of Islamic Association of Nepal, Faizan Ahmed, while coming out of the same mosque after performing evening prayers on 26 September 2011 was killed when fired at least five rounds of bullets that hit him in his forehead and stomach by two unidentified men.

To add, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in an interaction with the leaders of the Nepal’s Muslim community has already accepted that external forces were behind the serial murder of the prominent members of the Muslim community.

“It is wide and clear that since Nepal shares open border with India, Indian criminal gangs in all likelihood under the state protection are in a mission to annihilate the peace loving Nepali Muslim community. The state must guarantee safety to us”, the Muslim leader concludes.

The Muslim community has asked the government to declare Faizan Ahmed as a martyr, carryout through investigation of the case and guarantee safety to the entire community.

The government has already formed a three-member commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Rajendra Kumar Bhandari to investigate the murder.

Reports have it, killers of Ahmed--- as per the eyewitness who looked like strangers had made several telephone calls to India before the murder. The Nepal police is yet to reveal the telephone numbers and identity of the killers.

Observers presume that this case will also be shelved after some months, as is the practice in this 12 point Republic.

(Courtesy: TelegraphNepal.com)

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