The late South African leader was long a supporter of the Palestinian cause.
I like many of you were saddened to hear of the death of Nelson Mandela, a man who stuck to his unshakeable beliefs and principles in the most trying of circumstances, becoming the focal point of a struggle that would eventually break the apartheid era regime in South Africa.
Instead of writing about the great man himself, what I want to talk about firstly is the impact he had on me personally and to then look at the sickening levels of hypocrisy shown by the political and media classes who have cynically abused his death as an opportunity to gain some desperately needed cachet.
As a child of the 1980′s, one of my first realisations of political action were seeing my parents close down their bank accounts with Barclays Bank for their support of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Before my tenth birthday, I had become accustomed to checking the labels on our fruits and vegetables, if it came from “The Cape” or from companies that were operating in South Africa, then they were not bought.
These were my early roots of being politicised, as an act of solidarity to those in South Africa.
The Boycott Divestment & Sanctions broke the back of the apartheid regime in South Africa & the exact same thing can happen in Israel.
The similarity between apartheid era South Africa and that of modern day Israel are plain for all to see. You can read more about this on an earlier article I wrote for MPACUK titled “The World Against Israeli Apartheid”
The mainstream press in Britain has been gushing in its praise for Nelson Mandela, but in their desire to remove him from politics & make him a saint does him a disservice.
The western narrative has become of a saintly Nelson Mandela that turned the other cheek, that there is no room for his type of radical politics.
Today, as you see whitewashed images of a post-prison, unarmed, grandfatherly Nelson Mandela, please remember that he was someone who had the pride and courage to take up arms against his oppressor. Mandela fought in a guerilla war against white supremacy in South Africa, as did many others all across the world. It was the CIA that alerted the South African authorities to Mandela’s location, which is what led to his 27 years behind bars and the medical condition which felled him today. The American government was responsible for that crime.
So when you see the likes of Obama and his fellow politicians crying their crocodile tears later today remember that today, they imprison the modern day Mandela’s, that they murder the modern day Mandela’s with their drone strikes, remember that these are the politicians that arm the apartheid government of Israel to wreak war and destruction in Palestine and that these are the politicians that do everything they can to crush the kind of dissenting voice that Nelson Mandela stood for.
Our very own David Cameron (probably Gideon Osbourne & Boris Johnson) was part of the Conservative Federation of Students in 1985 when they produced this “Hang Mandela” poster
If that wasn’t enough, in 1989, David Cameron marked Nelson Mandela’s 26th year in prison sipping wine with the apartheid state’s rulers.
The hypocrisy of certain people shouldn’t go unchecked:
Conservative Home had a bit more of a realism to their piece “Mandela and the Right” where they stated, without attempting to deny their previous hatred of Mandela:
“In some quarters of the Right when I was a student, there was sympathy for apartheid (on the racist ground that black people are the inferiors of others) and, in a few cases, outright support. It felt foul then, and the memory of it is no nicer now.”
After Nelson Mandela was released from prison he wrote an open letter to (one of Rupert Murdoch’s key lieutenants at the Murdoch owned New York Times) the unashamed zionist propagandist Thomas Friedman, stating:
“The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established “normally” and happened to occupy another country in 1967. Palestinians are not struggling for a “state” but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa”
A few years ago, I wrote about the story of Islam’s resistance to colonialism & apartheid in South Africa and how it echoed Nelson Mandela’s struggle.
Not only was Nelson Mandela listed as a terrorist by both Reagan’s US & Thatcher’s UK Governments, but his party, the African National Congress, or the ANC, was listed as a terrorist organisation.
How many of today’s terrorists in future will be remembered as ‘brave apartheid fighters,’ or ‘brave freedom fighters?’
Mandela was openly welcomed and coveted the world over by kings and queens, prime ministers and presidents.
Yet how was it that so called “great leaders” like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan designated Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist,’ and his party, a ‘terrorist organisation?’ for simply wanting self determination from the white, European colonial powers and to give back the indigenous people back their land and their rights, in their own country.
To sum it all up, as my brother said
We Muslims should be the first to appreciate the lessons that Nelson Mandela taught us in his struggle for freedom.
Those who dismiss the death of Mandela as just the death of another man do not appreciate what his life meant to the oppressed of his time, and to those oppressed now.
Imam Hafiz Salih may lose sight in one eye after being punched by man who stopped his car
The leader of the Hull city mosque has appealed for his congregation not to take the law into their own hands after he was attacked by a man who stopped his car on the way home from the mosque.
Details of the assault on Imam Hafiz Salih, 60, have only just emerged. His son Ateeq Salih said his father was driving home last Saturday evening from his daughter's house next to the Hull Mosque and Islamic Centre when two men and a woman tried to stop his car.
"They ran into the middle of the road and he had to do an emergency stop. He beeped the horn at them," said the imam's son. "One of the men lay down in the road right in front of the car. My father was confused and thought he was injured. Then the man slowly got up and went to the car and opened the door. My mum was sitting in the front and my youngest sister was in the back. He looked at all of them and he punched my father very hard in the face. It was a very forceful punch and my father's face was covered in blood. Then the man walked away."
Ateeq Salih said it was too early to say whether the attack was racially motivated as the man had not said anything when he opened the car door. The imam suffered a severe eye injury and it is not known whether he will regain the sight in his injured eye.
Humberside police officers attended the mosque for Friday prayers to reassure the 1,000-strong congregation. The imam is a well-known figure in the city, and sits on both council and police boards, and works with other faiths to promote understanding. His son led prayers on Friday and passed a message to the congregation from his father. "He sent them a message of peace and unity and told them that no one should take the law into their own hands," he said.
Humberside police have issued an appeal for information. A statement said: "Police are appealing for information in connection with an incident on Spring Bank West, Hull.
"Around 2230 hours on Saturday 30 November 2013 a family were driving along Spring Bank West in the direction of Chanterlands Avenue, Hull. Close to the junction with Hymers Avenue two men and a woman caused the vehicle to stop. One of the men then assaulted the driver of the vehicle causing a serious injury to his eye.
"The offender is described as being a white man, 5ft 6in tall, well-built and aged 25-30. The man had short brown hair and was wearing a dark stone-coloured jacket, shirt and trousers.
"Police would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who can help to identify the persons involved."Sandra Laville
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By: Hina Khan
The conversion ceremony was a very frigid one. I was looking for acceptance; they were looking for submission. In a room full of suspicious women, I was alone with a fear that numbed my senses. The imām stepped into the foyer where I was seated as though it was a demonstration for public viewing. At least that was how I felt. I was asked to repeat after the imām. Taking the shahadah was heavy, but when I recited La Ilaha Illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah that evening, a strange peace covered my heart and none of the whisperings were audible to me anymore. I don't know if it was the silence of a chapter closing, or the tranquility of a blessed decision, but I had made a connection with a superior being and I was now under His care.
I did not understand the true essence of Islam way back then. I could not decipher the passion Muslims exhibited for their religion and towards their Prophets. I could not relate to the claims that I was entering a “perfect” religion. I was converting because I was told that I needed to become a Muslim in order to have a valid marriage with my husband to-be.
But that day when I took the shahadah, a new me was born, and I made the decision to understand my new life. It all starts with the cleansing of the heart: a fairly simple process that requires shedding of the ego and letting go of the years of ignorance so you're like a clean canvas that can absorb the colors of Islam and capture its beauty. It takes some courage and time, but it is doable.
I wasn't like the curious person who was in search for the truth, or a prisoner who was looking for redemption and finds himself in the comfort of Islam. I was put in that situation, not against my will, but bereft of enthusiasm. But having taken the shahadah where I bore witness that there is no God but Allāh and that Muḥammad is his messenger instilled an immediate sense of responsibility in me. I had no doubt about the presence of Allāh and so not softening my heart to learn more about His Prophet would be inappropriate and disrespectful of me. How could I be a Muslim and not know how to earn the blessings of Allāh in my life? That would be very unfortunate. What would I tell my children if I didn't know where to start?
Despite being raised in a Hindu family, I was never involved in rituals. There were no idols in my home and we hardly ever went to temples. My parents would always tell us that God is everywhere. I was raised with tolerance for every religion and most importantly, respect. However, I was always attracted to Muslims and their united way of worshiping. The concept of prayer in congregation was not only beautiful but also so organized that one cannot help but be drawn to the peace around it. The recitation of the Qur'an by a little child can conquer any restless mind and arouse an emotion so intense that the miracle that we know it to be is not just evident, but inspiring.
And so I decided I was going to learn and understand what being a Muslim was all about. It is in the process of attaining knowledge that one develops love and compassion. And it is this love and compassion that leads to steadfastness and accountability in our practice. It is a continuous process that can never end.
Seventeen years later, I have a small message for new converts. Islam is a very simple religion. If we have a bowl with big rocks in it, we can pour sand around it that fills the spaces around the rocks. The rocks are the foundational principles in Islam, and the sand is our lives. Also, we must resist in condemning our non-Muslim families and calling them kuffar. If we educate ourselves we will find that our non-Muslim parents have the same rights as Muslim parents do. We are to only disobey them in matters of religious conflicts. We do not assume religious superiority upon our conversions, but humble ourselves so we can attract them by our love and actions.
My daughters often ask me what I gave up when I converted. I don't have to think much because I didn't give up anything. I just re-routed my journey in this world using a more advanced operating system that doesn't get bothered by small conflicts and doesn't crash. It is designed to give me the desired results if I choose to use the recommended programming language, and in that process override any attempts made by malware to corrupt my networks as long as I am consistent and persistent.
(18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013)
Mujahid means one who struggles and strives, Nelson Mandela was the epitome of righteous struggle. It is no wonder that he is reviled by racists and Islamophobes, nor is the fact that our own government kept him on the “terrorist watch-list” until 2008 surprising.
In the end, Mandela’s immortal deeds live on, it is us, the living who need to be awakened.
Mandela’s struggle against apartheid continues, as he was keen to remind us:
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
A taskforce set up after the death of Lee Rigby has recommended serious attempts to counter hatred towards Muslims
The death of Drummer Lee Rigby was in many ways a watershed moment in Britain's struggle against violent extremism. It was a brutal and highly symbolic killing of a member of our armed forces, and on British soil. Compared to the elaborate plots in New York, London, Madrid or Boston, the attack on the streets of Woolwich was shockingly simple. Two men, Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are currently on trial charged with his murder, a charge they both deny.
The attack was quickly followed by other events, each of which further underscored the changing face of extremism in Britain. In the shadow of Woolwich there was a sharp rise in verbal and physical abuse against British Muslims, arguably fuelled by a more assertive far right. Then, six men were imprisoned on terrorism offences after planning an attack on the English Defence League. Shortly after, it was revealed that since the London bombings in 2005, security officials had disrupted no less than 34 terror plots. Then, the case of Pavlo Lapshyn pushed the spotlight back on to rightwing violence: a lone attacker with far-right literature, Lapshyn murdered a Muslim pensioner and detonated three bombs outside mosques in the Midlands. All of this in less than 12 months.
This highlights how the challenge from extremism is not static. Extremists learn from the past, and adapt for the future. Increasingly, the days when we faced a clearly identifiable threat with top-down chains of command look obsolete. Instead we have lone attackers or small cells of fanatics whose "radicalisation" often takes place as much online as offline.
After Woolwich, the government sought to meet this challenge by launching a taskforce on radicalisation and extremism. The taskforce's report, which has just been released, has been shaped by an underlying view that Britain has been too reticent about challenging extremist ideologies, and needs a more muscular approach. There are a series of recommendations: new orders to ban groups who preach hate; antisocial behaviour powers to make life difficult for those who seek to radicalise others; greater effort to remove extremist literature online through public reporting, filters and excluding those who post material from entering the UK; trained Muslim chaplains to tackle extremism in universities and prisons; support for extremists in prison; and the ability for government to intervene in hotspots where councils are failing to take sufficient action.
Inevitably, defenders of civil liberties and minority rights will argue that some of this goes too far, while others will argue it does not go far enough. For instance, there is no mention of the growing concern about extremist views within the military, and many will question the ability of government to enact real changes online. As an academic, I was also surprised that the taskforce did not consult more widely (to my knowledge not one academic or research expert in extremism or terrorism was invited to engage directly with it).
However, the report goes some way to addressing two particular criticisms that are often levelled at similar efforts. The first criticism is that government is only really interested in radical Islamists and ignores or only pays lip service to groups hostile toward Islam. But this time the government, more than any of its predecessors, does stress the need to tackle extremism of all kinds, citing Islamophobia and the far right. It also advocates that the Channel programme, which supports individuals who are at risk of radicalisation, be made a legal requirement, which is significant given that a growing number of referrals relate to the far right, not simply Islamist violence.
The second criticism is that British Muslims will be unfairly stigmatised, a view rooted in memories of the Prevent strategy that some argue treated Muslim communities with suspicion while ignoring their grievances over foreign policy or the worrying levels of abuse they experience. Yet the coalition government has arguably done more than others to tackle anti-Muslim prejudice, investing in work that recognises the sacrifice of Muslim soldiers and the atrocity in Srebrenica; setting up a programme to improve data on hate crime against Muslims; and establishing a cross-government working group on anti-Muslim hatred. Those who claim nothing is done to counter Islamophobia are increasingly at odds with reality. Much of this reflects the tireless work of Baroness Warsi, who after rightly arguing that Islamophobia had "passed the dinner table test", proceeded to put it on the national agenda.
Clearly, no counter-extremism strategy will unite us all. Such work lies at the notoriously fragile intersection that separates civil liberties from national security. But for the first time in a long while there are signs that we are moving in a better direction, and have acknowledged some failings in the past. While this week's recommendations provide us with a foundation rather than a coherent strategy, they are a useful starting point for us all.Matthew Goodwin
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Around 20 members of the Portsmouth English Defence League staged a protest tonight outside the Jami mosque in Southsea.
Spaces for men from the same family survive spread of coffee shops and restaurants.
The image above was posted on the right-wing website, FreePatriot.org, in an article titled “Muslim Mob Justice–15 year old girl thrown from Third Floor window.”
Free Patriot has a half million Facebook fans and after the article was shared on its page it went viral on the Islamophobia industry’s interwebs.
Rick Wells who authored the post claimed that the picture was of a girl thrown from a third floor window by Muslims,
In a truly outrageous demonstration of the lawlessness that exists in Egypt today, the Muslim residents of a small village in southern Minya province went on a rampage. They attacked Christian homes, burning 10 of them. 15 Christians were wounded, including a 15 year-old girl who was thrown from the third floor of a building. The report is from Ezzat Ibrahim, a minority rights activist.
Wells made the story about the image up whole cloth.
The real story behind the image: It is actually from June, 2011 and takes place in Shanghai, China not Minya, Egypt and the woman was not thrown out of the window but rather fell from the fifth floor!:
A WOMAN has survived a fall from the fifth floor after a number of windows she hit on her way down broke her fall.
The Sun reports horrified onlookers saw her jump out after someone is believed to have threatened her.
Asia One said the incident happened at a residential building in Shanghai’s Luwan district, where the woman was spotted crouching from the window on the fifth floor yelling, “Somebody is going to kill me!”
The woman, 29 lost her grip on the window and fell into several open windows, which sent her spinning during her fall.
The unnamed woman was rushed to hospital after the plunge and is recovering from the incident.
It happened just days after the woman was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
It isn’t surprising or exactly breaking news that the Christian Right is willing to go to the lowest depths to demonize Muslims and Islam but what’s interesting is the pathology behind their lies.
Even after several commenters exposed the story to be false, many continue to believe it and state quite clearly that they do not care for the truth:
Justin Pearson writes a comment for which he got 102 upvotes:
Ok., stop looking at the girl ppl. Its not about her. Yes., she is Asian. Yes, she got thrown out a window and yes., she is bound to suffer some terrible injuries when she hits that window and the ground after…, please however as Pissed off Patriot says., its not about her., its the story as a whole.
We can become side tracked by the smaller things ( I apologise to her parents for that choice of words) but its the greater picture here folks.
islam is taking over the world in an extream atmosphere over run by extreamists and a weak islamic communist loving son of a bitch in the oval office named obama who happens to hate Americans who has actually broken international law…., as well committe high treason for selling weapons to known enemies.
The point here folks…., is that islam cant be trusted.
Either you bow down to their false god and become a cult member, or you get thrown out windows or stoned to death or something else.
muslim trash of the earth
Rick Mage, the proud Texan,
Hey, come try that shit here in Texas, Muslim militants! We’ll be more than happy to mow you scums down. You’ll find that the Christians in Texas aren’t so easy to push over, and we LOVE TO fight! So, come on down!
I can’t believe you people are over looking what this story is about! It’s not about the picture damn it! It is about the fact that Muslims kill for no reason other than their own laws!! Forget if shes’ Asian or her age! Read the story not look at the picture! This shows that you are uneducated and this is the problem with letting Muslims get away with what they are doing around the World!!!!!
On the Christian Right it’s OK to spread lies and fear in the War against Islam, who knows which Jesus they believe in, probably the wrathful one.
Islamophobic And Proud Of It
An easy way for Russia to not “turn Muslim,” if such a conspiratorial process was actually occurring the way Daniel Pipes describes it, would be to not inflict a brutal decades long war against Chechnya and then install a repressive tyrant puppet warlord over the state.
In any case Pipes is just floundering in his usual habit of half-baked analysis and scaremongering. (h/t: Floyd)Is Russia Turning Muslim?
by Mark Adomanis (Forbes)
Earlier this week Daniel Pipes had a piece in the Washington Times about Russia’s rapid transformation into a Muslim-dominated society. The piece makes a number of arguments, but its central thesis is the following:
Alcoholism-plagued ethnic Russians are said to have European birthrates and African death rates. Their women have on average 1.4 children, and their men have a life expectancy of 60 years. In Moscow, ethnic Christian women have 1.1 child.
In contrast, Muslim women bear 2.3 children on average and have fewer abortions than their Russian counterparts. In Moscow, Tatar women have six children and Chechen and Ingush women have 10.
I won’t get too spun up about the fact that Christianity is not an ethnicity, but the numbers Pipes cited seemed really off to me. I was particularly struck by the suggestion that any sizable group of people living in Moscow averages 10 children a women. That level of fertility would be superhuman in even the most rural location, but in Moscow it strains credulity past the breaking point. Moscow, after all, is one of the most expensive and crowded cities in the world: I simply can’t imagine the sorts of resources you would need in order to raise 10 children there.
Curious as to where Pipes got his numbers, I set out to try and see what the variation between ethnic Russian and Muslim birth rates actually is. Now as far as I am aware Rosstat, the Russian statistical agency, doesn’t publish any ethnically-based fertility or mortality statistics. I’ve spent an awful lot of time over the past few years looking through Rosstat databases, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen data on the birth or death rates of a particular ethnic group. It would be great to know what the alcohol poisoning rate was for all ethnic Russians or what the birth rate was for all ethnic Tatars, but, unfortunately, those don’t seem to be available.
Rosstat does, however, publish region-by-region fertility statistics. Additionally, as part of the 2010 census, Rosstat also collected regional data on ethnicity. Looking at the census data, you can therefore get a pretty clear idea about which regions are dominated by ethnic Russians and other ethnic Slavs. You can then look at the fertility rate in those same regions to try to see what the “Russian” birth rate actually is.
So I examined those regions that had populations that were more than 90% Slavic, a subset which had a total population of slightly more than 49 million people. I then calculated the weighed average fertility rate for this group. The result? Well, maybe not as dramatic as you might have expected
So, in 2011, the most heavily Slavic parts of the country, areas with virtually no “national minorities,” had a fertility rate that was only about 3% lower than the all-Russian average. That’s a real difference, but not a shocking one.
Do traditionally Muslim areas of Russia have higher fertility than traditionally Russian ones? Yes, they do. But the weighted average TFR of traditionally Muslim areas (seven different regions inhabited by about 13.8 million people) is 1.94. It seems impossible to square Pipes’ contention that Chechen and Tatar women are averaging 6 and 10 children with the fact that even traditionally Muslim areas of Russia have below-replacement fertility. The population of Russia’s Muslim areas will still shrink, it will just do so more gradually than in traditionally Russian areas.
Now the above does not conclusively prove that there is not an enormous discrepancy between Russian and Muslim birth rates. It’s theoretically possible that even in the overwhelmingly Slavic regions I looked at that an extremely disproportionate share of the births are occurring among a small number of non-Slavs. For all I know there could be 10 Chechen “hero-mothers” in Bryansk who have each had 30 children. But, based on the relevant data, it seems far more likely that the differences between different ethnic groups are a lot more muted than Pipes implied.
Will Russia’s Muslim population grow in the coming years? Yes, it will. Will that growth have political, economic, and social consequences? Yes it will. But it simply doesn’t seem to be true that Russians are being massively out-bred by more fecund minorities. The non-Russian share of the population will increase but it will do so in a glow and gradual manner, not the vaguely apocalyptic one traced by Pipes. In this sense Russia is not a bizarre outlier but an awful lot like most European countries where the share of the titular nationality is set to decline gradually over the course of the 21st century.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkAdomanis
It's outrageous that an imam like Usama Hasan faced death threats for challenging creationism. But outrage only takes us so far
Usama Hasan was the imam of a mosque in Leyton until he was driven from the post by death threats. This is perhaps the most extreme reaction there has ever been to an article on Comment is free: the death threats were the response of a section of his congregation to a piece he wrote here defending the truth of evolution. He kept his head down for a couple of years after that, to protect his family, but has now resurfaced as a fellow at the Quilliam Foundation, the counter-extremism thinktank.
At the weekend, he was in Salisbury, at the Muslim Institute's Winter Gathering, and I chaired a discussion with him there on creationism among Muslims. In close-up his story was even more shocking than it appears in summary. A visiting Saudi cleric issued a fatwa, from the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, that supported his enemies in the congregation: not only did it explain that anyone who denied creationism was an apostate, who could (and should, in an ideal state) be killed, but that his support for women going bareheaded if they wished, and for a secular form of government, were also sufficient grounds for a death sentence.
Since these judgments were circulated in jihadi circles, Hasan and his family were in real danger as a result and were granted police protection for a while.
This is shocking enough as an example of what Saudi influence on British Islam can lead to. I'd like to believe that visiting preachers are now rather more careful about what they say in public. But in the absence of hard evidence either way I will maintain an attitude of suspicion. Wahhabi Islam really is a loathsome and dangerous ideology.
We knew that, already, of course. It's good to be reminded. But there are some small aspects to his story that deserve consideration. I asked him which of the three "crimes" he had been charged with was the most serious. It's not easy for the western mind to understand how they fit together. To us, evolution is a scientific theory, the headscarf is a matter of fashion, and secularism is a political programme. How can any of them – let alone all of them – be considered so dangerous that their proponents must be killed? Which was the real offence?
He replied that they were all equally serious, except that to some people the headscarf mattered less – to others it was the most important. They all appear to fanatics as unpardonable violations of a pure Muslim identity.
In this country, of course, secularism is unavoidable, and so is the knowledge that many Muslim women choose not to wear headscarves, and many more the full veil. But creationism can remain an invisible marker of Muslim identity and there's some reason to suppose that it remains so.
Nearly half the audience in Salisbury had been raised as creationists, and they are a core part of the intellectual elite of Islam in this country. Many in fact worked as scientists. But it emerged clearly that you can be a creationist without it affecting any other part of your life. Hasan himself took a degree in theoretical physics at Cambridge and later a doctorate in artificial intelligence – but remained a creationist through all those years. He admitted that his 20-year-old self might well have called for the death of his 40-year-old self.
So what can be done about this? In the short term, it is obvious that outrage is quite useful. There are some things – death threats are a good example – to which the answer is "You just bloody can't do that in a civilised country". In the long term, we must hope for social change which involves hundreds of thousands of individual changes of heart. And that is where the limitations of outrage become apparent.
Contempt is a hugely counterproductive tactic when it comes to creationism. Sure, it makes the contemptuous feel good. But since creationism is adopted and transmitted as a marker of identity, contempt becomes aimed not at the idea (which is most unlikely to be understood, even assuming it is coherent) but at the identity which it expresses. That really doesn't work on a minority that already feels excluded and discriminated against. Assimilation is based on the assumption that the mainstream culture is superior – as it clearly is superior to Saudi Islam – but the paradox is that it can only work when it involves genuine respect for the cultures that are to be assimilated.Andrew Brown
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On 1 December, a 13-year-old girl died after inhaling carbon monoxide fumes in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. She and her unemployed mother had been trying to use a makeshift stove to heat their freezing flat, having had their electricity cut off several months earlier. In Greece, austerity continues to kill.
The Greeks have few friends in our part of Europe, however, as I discovered at a recent Intelligence Squared debate on Germany and austerity at Cadogan Hall in London. “Why should hard-working northern Europeans pay for the Greeks?” asked a Dutch member of the audience. “The Greek railway is so inefficient that it would be cheaper to move everybody by taxi,” sneered a German. There is a sense in southern Europe, suggested another audience member, that “money just grows on trees”.
Isn’t it odd that there is always money available to bail out banks but not people? As my fellow panellist Euclid Tsakalotos, a Greek economist and member of parliament for the left-wing Syriza party, put it to me afterwards: “Public debate has suffered a dumbing-down process.” How, he asked, could “a world economic crisis of such proportions that has affected so many economies ... be put down to differential work efforts”?
Work, or jobs, is what Greece lacks. One in four Greeks is unemployed; more than half of the country’s youth cannot find work. Suicides are up; the birth rate is down. On a visit to Athens in 2012, I met Nikitas Kanakis, the chairman of the Greek branch of the charity Doctors of the World. “If the people cannot survive with dignity,” he told me, “we cannot have a future.”
It is dangerous, misguided and mendacious, as countless economists from the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to the Financial Times commentator Martin Wolf have pointed out, to treat the eurozone’s ongoing debt crisis as a modern-day morality tale. It isn’t.
Record debts were caused by post-crash bank bailouts and a crisis-induced collapse in tax revenues. Take Spain. That country’s downturn was the result not of excessive government spending or public debt but of the explosion of private debt, particularly in the real estate and banking sectors. Because of the crash, Spain’s public-debt-to-GDP ratio morphed from being one of the lowest in the eurozone to one of the highest.
Overspending didn’t cause the crisis but underspending is exacerbating it. Austerity isn’t working. Don’t take my word for it: a paper published in October by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs revealed how the cumulative cost of fiscal self-flagellation across the eurozone was 6 per cent of GDP between 2011 and 2013. Crucially, the paper also pointed out that the catastrophically contractionary consequences of austerity in the southern debtor countries were “aggravated” by Germany and other northern creditor countries simultaneously cutting spending and raising taxes.
Another reason why we shouldn’t moralise about debt is to avoid the charge of rank hypocrisy. After all, why pick on the Greeks, rather than the Germans? In the years before the crash – for example, from 2003 to 2004 – Germany persistently breached the budget deficit rules laid down in the EU’s growth and stability pact; the then chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, demanded that his country be exempted from any penalties. In 2006, while Spain and Ireland were running budget surpluses, Germany was in deficit.
Then there’s the German private sector. In 2008, as an investigation by Bloomberg subsequently revealed, over-leveraged German banks and financial institutions received secret loans from the US Federal Reserve.
Now go back 60 years. In 1953, Germany’s postwar debt trap was lifted in London, at a conference of creditors in which the enormous amount of money the country owed was cut in half and the repayment period spread out over 30 years. One of those creditor countries was ... Greece.
Few historians would dispute that the astounding growth of the postwar German economy and the ascent of Germany to world economic power status wouldn’t have happened without the London Debt Agreement. So why such a different attitude now? Why the mocking, demonising and punishing of debtor countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal? Why the pretence that debt forgiveness isn’t effective or doable or that it is without precedent?
It is perhaps because such a strategy would require bold and far-sighted leaders. What Europe needs right now is a Konrad Adenauer or a Charles de Gaulle, but the leaders it has to make do with are Angela Merkel and François Hollande.
Writing in these pages in June 2012, I attracted the ire of Germanophiles and deficit hawks alike by accusing Merkel, who was elected for a third term as chancellor in September this year, of “destroying the European project, pauperising Germany’s neighbours and risking a new global depression”.
But this isn’t merely the prejudice of a nasty British journalist picking on poor, defenceless Mutti. Listen to the former German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, who, according to Der Spiegel, has told friends: “She [Merkel] is destroying my Europe.”
A break-up of the eurozone may be where we are headed if spending cuts take precedence over debt defaults and if the financial crisis continues to be cynically portrayed as a morality play. What the continent needs is a debt jubilee and a halt to austerity. Oh, and some solidarity. Otherwise, a second Great Depression beckons.
To borrow a line from the US economist Michael Hudson: “Debts that can’t be repaid won’t be repaid.”
Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the political director of the Huffington Post UK, where this column is cross-posted
On a dark and stormy night in the dark cave of man's mind, Shaitaan once lit a campfire and settled down to tell a story- a myth, in fact. It went like this:
Once upon a time Islam was revealed to a Prophet of near God-like perfection. He shared it with his friends, who were all superhumans lacking any embarrassing or inconvenient biological urges. They implemented it with inspirational dedication, passion, and flawlessness. Since then it has been passed down through the generations, and only a privileged few are able to embody the wisdom, piety, and errorless rejection of sin that its holiness demands. By Shaitaan, the End.
Shaitaan is possibly millions of years old and pretty damned (literally!) sneaky. His goal, at the end of the day, is to get as many of us into hell with him as possible, and one of the ways that he does this is by using this myth of effortless, perfect implementation of Islam by effortless, perfect Muslims.
The idea is simple. Shaitaan says:
Do it all perfectly or just stop, because you're embarrassing yourself.
In fact, a person like you has no chance of getting into Jannah.
In fact, just kill yourself now. At least it will be over sooner.
His message is so insidious that people all over the world actually give up trying to be better Muslims because they fall short of their own expectations for how effortless and impeccable their Islam should be. They try hard to implement Islam- they go through the motions even when their hearts aren't in it, and because they find themselves being pulled in two directions, they assume they're doing something hypocritical or wrong and they stop altogether.
Shaitaan wants you to believe that there are naturally religious people, and then there's everybody else. And the reason why you are having a hard time isn't because spirituality is one of man's greatest struggles, it's because you aren't one of the beautiful people. So the sister who yearns for the wind in her hair gives up hijab because she feels like she's living a lie. The brother who has a beard shaves it because he feels he doesn't deserve one until he can quit marijuana. The convert won't pray until they're sure they've got all the words right. All of these are success stories for the myth of the Naturally Good Muslim. They are Muslims who, instead of realising that struggle was a sign of progress, saw difficulty as a sign of defeat.
Some people do fall for it. Others- like imām Sufyaan ath-Thawri- saw through this cheap trick and insisted on praying at night for twenty years even though he wasn't “feeling it.”
Imagine if, one day he had just thrown his hands up and said “You know what? I'm not cut out for this, I've been praying for twenty years and I've yet to find this whole peace and contentment with my ṣalāh. What's the point? I'm never going to get it right…”
Shaitaan is trying to convince you that because your Islam is less than perfect, you're a failure who should give up already. In reality, everyone is a sinner and the Jihad of the nafs is a constant struggle for everyone. The best people aren't those who sin, but those whose sins cause them to try even harder and draw even closer to Allāh next time. For some people, major sins can be major set-backs. For others, they are life-changing events that mark the end of heedlessness and the beginning of seeking Allāh's pleasure.
Every Muslim is a combination of successes and failures when it comes to their religious practice. So as a sinner, you're in great company! Everyone, everywhere, accumulates sin on a daily basis, and if everyone like you took Shaitaan's advice and just killed themselves, we'd all be dead.
O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you.
-Excerpt from Hadith Qudsi, full hadith here.
Shaitaan wants you to think that the passing grade for this test is 100% and failure is everything else. But if you believe him, then you're buying into an insult to Allāh. How? Allāh is The Most Merciful, Most Forgiving- Most Loving, Most Gracious, Most Kind- He alone has attained perfection and as The All-Knowing, He knows how and what we're made of, so by what crazy logic would He mercilessly penalize us for not reaching a standard that He best knows that we can never attain?
Shaitaan might add at this point: well, ok, Allāh is The Best. But you can't think that you're getting into Jannah with *that* old sack of a soul. Have you seen the state of your nafs? Brother, it is bad.
If you think you're too bad for Allāh to forgive, then you're grossly underestimating Allāh's capacity for forgiveness. You're implying that your teeny-tiny mortal capacity to sin is even greater than Allāh's capacity to forgive. Please, don't insult God. They don't call Him Al-Ghaffar, The Continuously Forgiving, for nothing.
On the authority of Anas (may Allāh be pleased with him), who said:I heard the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) say: Allāh the Almighty said:
O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind.
O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you.
O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it.
Related by at-Tirmidhi (also by Ahmad ibn Hanbal). Its chain of authorities is sound.
Whenever I read that Hadith, it puts a certain picture in my head, and in my primitive photoshop imagination, it looks like this:
Repentance for a mountain of sins is equal to a mountain of blessings. So, the greater the sin you've committed, the greater the reward for seeking forgiveness. Knowing that this is how Allāh works helps us appreciate how truly generous Allāh is in His forgiveness- instead of seeking forgiveness on a level -10 sin and only being returned to a clean slate with 0, we seek forgiveness on a level -10 and in response are given a +10 in its place. AllahuAkbar.
Shaitaan wants you to forget that Allāh is the Greatest- even in His capacity to forgive those who sincerely ask it. He wants you to think that you only have two choices; perfection or failure, and since perfection ain't gonna happen, what option does Shaitaan leave you? Killing yourself and getting it over with already. But, there's a third option that Shaitaan doesn't want you to forget about it:
Between perfection and failure lies your only real choice: Fight.
Fight shaitaan's insistence upon your failure, fight your own soul's inclination to sin, fight your own weaknesses and no matter how hard you've been hit or how long you've been laying on the ground- get up and keep fighting. Fight shaitaan as hard as he's fighting you, as long as he's fighting you, and don't stop fighting him until the Angel of Death draws your soul gently away from your body and into the safety of your grave, spacious and fragrant with the winds of Jannah, where you can finally relax a little, reassured and kept company by your good deeds until Allāh raises you on Qiyama.
Just because your heart is aching right now, and you're locked in the seemingly endless cycle of sin, regret, and self-reproach doesn't mean you're a lost cause. It's actually good news, and here's why. The human heart (or soul, or nafs) has three settings according to the Qur'an.The Lowest, Default Setting: Nafs al-Amarra bis Su'
The lowest level is the Nafs al-Amarra bis Su' or the soul that is inclined to evil, and a majority of humankind lives in this guiltless, no-regrets, live for the moment mode. This seems to be the default setting for most pop music as well.
And I do not free myself from blame. Indeed the human self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Indeed my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Surah Yusuf: 53)
Knowing that it's possible to have varying levels of soundness to one's heart/nafs- Muslims don't rely on the soundness of their heart to provide a compass to morality. It is not your heart's job to point you towards what's right, it only points you towards what it wants. So in a sense, you don't follow your heart as much as your heart follows you.
Have you seen the one who takes as god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? Surah Al Furqan: 43The Medium Setting: Nafs al-Lawwama
“I do call to witness the Resurrection Day. And I do call to witness the self-reproaching Soul.” Surah Al-Qiyamah: 1-2
This is a soul that battles with its desires, that commits sin and then reproaches itself and tries harder next time. It has awareness of its shortcomings, but despite its imperfections, it hasn't given up. Your guilt and self-reproach about the shortcomings in your Islamic practice are evidence of having made progress on your spiritual journey. The bad news is though, is that Shaitaan is trying to knock you down a notch so that instead of trying harder, you just stop trying altogether- whether because you've killed yourself, or because you've decided that you're a hypocrite and you've written yourself off as ever being a “good” Muslim.
Alḥamdulillāh though, Allāh has good news for the Reproaching Soul.
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous- Who spend [in the cause of Allāh ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allāh loves the doers of good; And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allāh and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allāh ? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.” Qur'an 3:133-135
The very fact that you are aware of your shortcomings, even pained by them- is reassuring proof that you have a Nafs al-Lawwama. If you didn't care, didn't want to care, and didn't even want to hear about why you should try to give a care- well, that would be worse. Sure, you'd probably be happier and more “at peace with your self,” as many modern proponents of self-worship would say, but you'd actually be wallowing in heedlessness.The Highest setting: Nafs al-Mutma'inna
“O you satisfied soul. Return to your Lord pleased with yourself and pleasing to Him. Enter among My servants. And enter My paradise.” (Surah Al-Fajr: 27-30)
You might not be here yet, but that's ok. You can still strive to accomplish this. The Contented Soul, or the Satisfied Soul, is the highest setting for your heart. It is a place of happiness, peace, acceptance, and sweetness of faith. It takes hard work to get there, and Allāh has good tidings for the Contented Soul but get this- not even the Contented Soul is a perfect soul. It's just a very happy one, and very close to Allāh. I'd write more about it, but I've yet to get there myself. :)
So, in a nutshell:
- No one is perfect except Allāh, so don't hate yourself for being an imperfect Muslim.
- You're not the only one accumulating sin every day that you're alive, so don't let Shaitaan pick on you.
- The difference between a good Muslim and a bad Muslim is not that one sins and one doesn't- it's that one seeks forgiveness & tries harder, and one doesn't.
- Shaitaan's trying to trick you into thinking you're a failure so that you give up.
- Believing him is the only way to lose.
- Fighting him is the only way to win.
There's one more thing that we need to remind you of:
On no soul does Allāh place a burden greater than it can bear.
That means that whatever situation you're in -despite how hard it seem and how badly Shaitaan is trying to bring you down- you can overcome this. You can succeed. You can find a way- either out or through- that is pleasing to Allāh and perhaps even terribly frustrating to Shaitaan.
There is nothing coming that you can't handle, not because you're great, but because Allāh is the Greatest. He knows what you're capable of, and He promised your challenges would never exceed your strengths. Allāh sets us up for growth, not failure. And Allāh never, ever breaks His promises.
Shaitaan, on the other hand, has been lying to you. He's saying that anyone who's struggling with deen shouldn't even bother to try, whereas Allāh gives double the normal reward to those who have difficulty reading Qu'ran. The Prophet Muḥammad, peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him said “The magnitude of the reward goes along with the magnitude of the affliction.” (Tirmidhi)
The more you're afflicted now- whether it be with stress, illness, financial difficulties, emotional turmoil or self reproach- the more you will be rewarded when you succeed, and the fact that you're struggling right now isn't a sign that you should just give up and kill yourself, it's an invitation from Allāh to come closer to Him.
Will you accept?
More than 60% of the students in Orgram Chatuspalli High Madrassa are non-Muslims [Shaikh Azizur Rahman/Al Jazeera]Madrassas in India attract Hindu students
Clad in white and blue salwar kameez (traditional Indian dress) and translating an Arabic verse from her Islamic studies textbook into Bengali, 15-year-old Puja Kshetrapal could pass for a Muslim. But she, along with almost half of the 200 tenth graders in Chatuspalli High Madrassa in Orgram village in India’s West Bengal state, are Hindus.
“Although it is called a madrassa (Islamic seminary), people in the area view it like a good regular school. So, my parents chose to send me to this institution,” Puja told Al Jazeera.
Anwar Hossain, the headmaster of the Orgram madrassa located 125km north of the state capital, Kolkata, says that it is mostly its modern curriculum that has made the institution increasingly popular in the Hindu-majority society.
“Ordinary people believe that a madrassa is a place where students are taught only religious subjects, and that it has no connection with modern education,” Hossain said.
“For some years we have been working to change their notion. We are teaching our students all general subjects as their counterparts are studying in regular schools,” he said.
“After studying in our madrassa, children can plan their career in any field of their choice. This is the main reason why more than 60 percent of more than 1,400 students at the madrassa are non-Muslims now.”
Even, 11 of the 32 teachers in the madrassa are Hindu, Hossain added.
Madrassas are usually thought of as Muslim-only schools where children study only theology and end up as religious teachers or clerics.
After 9/11, many in the non-Muslim world viewed South Asia’s tens of thousands of madrassas with suspicion, regarding them as a breeding ground for radical strains of Islam.
But in recent years, defying the stereotype, nearly 600 government-recognised madrassas in West Bengal have introduced a mainstream school curriculum, and non-Muslims are studying in almost all of them.
Currently, about 15 percent of the students in the state’s modernised madrassas are non-Muslims, and many of them are expecting to become engineers, doctors, scientists and other professionals.
Orgram and other madrassas in the state have undergone modernisation offering courses in physics, chemistry, biology, geography, mathematics, computer science, English language and literature and other regular subjects.
Islamic studies and the Arabic language course form a small part of the curriculum.
Funded by the state, the madrassas which are located mostly in rural Bengal charge no fees, and offer free school uniforms and mid-day meals, making them especially attractive to students from poor and lower middle-class families.
Examples of Muslim students who attended the madrassas and are now successful in their careers have spurred many non-Muslim families to send their children to the madrassas, many say.
“In Hindu-dominated society until some time back, madrassas – identified as Muslims only institutions – carried a stigma. Non-Muslims and even many Muslims used to stay away from them,” Dr Khandkar Fariduddin, an eye surgeon and an alumnus of a modern madrassa told Al Jazeera.
“But, now that they have known that a madrassa student can also become a doctor, engineer or other good professional, they are shedding their inhibitions and sending their children to these modern madrassas,” he said.
“Now the modern madrassas are part of mainstream education infrastructure in West Bengal.”
We personify the motherland,
She transcends all barriers,
So millions of miles from the Land,
Our roots are still entwined,
Because home is not merely,
Where we came from,
Home is where we are headed.
Of broken mother tongues,
In the presence of loved ones,
Sharing their first,
Home is rich.
Not just soil,
Stained in the richest of Crimson,
But soul stained,
In the deepest of love.
Between nostalgic sighs,
That still mourn your death,
Smiles fall between loved ones,
Intersecting in places,
Where there are no LoC’s,
We call this terrain -heart,
Souls were always destined,
To collide – here.
We are the motherland,
Are the spaces between us,
Our hearts meet,
In the place where,
The Jhelum collide,
Those rivers ,
Like these bonds,
Equal sustenance, still.
And there is no first rainfall here,
But we await news of your first snow,
As the Chinar sheds her leaves,
Over English streets.
They tell me,
The intrinsic nature of this poetry,
Is not English,
Kashmir is apparent upon page,
Because these words,
Words, carry heartbeats,
So how can we be,
Makes Home apparent,
To all those who still cannot,
Run fingers over maps,
To caress the country,
Where our parents were born.
We are not orphaned,
Our home is far greater,
Than an occupied land,
Do we still define it,
With an Oppressor’s tongue?
A free Palestine is on its way, so the US secretary of state should stop impeding it.
Loonwatch did not play a direct role in having Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer banned from the UK. We’re opposed to using the apparatus of the state to curtail free speech.
The ideal response to objectionable free speech is more free speech.
We do, however, appreciate free advertising. When we’re being publicly denounced by notorious ant-Muslim bigots, we know we must be doing something right.Documents reveal British banned Geller and Spencer because of their ‘pro-Israeli views’
by Pamela Geller, The Daily Caller
The British government tried to cover its tracks. But a new cache of documents Robert Spencer and I have received in our battle to overturn our being banned from Britain reveal that a chief reason why we were banned from the country was because we strongly support Israel…
….It is breathtaking – the amount of time, money, and human resources devoted to this Kafkaesque exercise. These venerable agencies begin their in-depth and comprehensive research at — wait for this — Wikipedia. From there, they cite to each other such notorious and reputable smear machines as Loonwatch and Islamophobia Today. Senior analysts from Asia, the Middle East and Europe were part of the research and information team. Our case had “very senior scrutiny,” as there was a “need to push” on this research. Mind you, much of the material in these documents were redacted. Wouldn’t the unredacted documents have made interesting reading?
All reference to the identities of those who asked that we be banned have been blacked out. Henry Ripley, writing “for the Treasury Solicitor,” explained to our lawyers that “the documents provided have been redacted to remove references to information which is not relevant to the claims.” No, clearly the documents were redacted to conceal who was behind the ban and what their motives were, and to conceal the conspiratorial nature of the exclusion.
It is amusing to read the back-and-forth when these geniuses begin to discover that we had no plans to come in February. They decide that “it doesn’t mean that they’ve [EDL] given up on the idea” of bringing us over, “and it would be a blow to their credibility if they did.” I find it interesting how badly they wanted to damage the EDL’s credibility. They were so bent on this that they had an informant within the EDL, from whom they say they were getting this information.
Through March and April they continued to pursue the elusive and non-existent engagement that Robert and I had never agreed to attend, spoken about attending, or even discussed attending among ourselves. This crack research team has one eureka moment when one of the redacted names “has discovered circa 120 articles written by Geller on one website alone[!] In order to go through this properly, we need another week to conduct our research.” More time. More money. More people.
“The government,” one document says, “is clear that it opposes extremism in all forms.” Does it oppose extremism in pursuit of truth? Does it oppose extremism in pursuit of justice? Of liberty? How ridiculous they are, tying themselves in knots at the behest of their would-be executioners.
Read the full article here.