Thursday, August 7, 2014

Javed Anand - A human question - why the silence over the mass crimes being committed in Iraq in the name of Islam? // Ahmad Rashid - The new Taliban

To anyone who reads Urdu papers it appears that for far too many Indian Muslims, Palestine is a religious problem...To the Muslim religious leadership and the Urdu media in India I have a few questions to ask. Are you agonising over the pain and suffering of “fellow Muslims” or of “fellow humans”? Why the inflamed sentiments over ongoing atrocities in Gaza/Palestine but near silence over the virtually parallel mass crimes being committed in neighbouring Iraq by a rogue army that calls itself the Islamic State (formerly Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) and is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who has declared himself as the new “Caliph” of the entire Muslim world? The claim of being a Caliph has been treated by most as a silly joke, I know. But what about the crimes of his followers?
Count me as part of the global community of individuals, organisations and governments protesting against the latest round of brutality being perpetrated by Israeli forces on non-combatant men, women and children of Gaza. Count me among those outraged by the hypocrisy of the US government which condemns the Israeli pounding of a UN-run shelter of refugees in one breath and announces its eagerness to replenish the depleting ammunition supply of the mass murderers in the next.

Count me among the admirers of Latin America’s governments which, acting virtually en bloc in an unprecedented move, have denounced the Israeli government for the death and destruction it continues to rain down on innocent citizens. While Bolivian President Evo Morales has declared Israel a “terrorist state”, other heads of state have condemned the “war of extermination” against the Palestinian people and recalled their ambassadors from Israel. In a way it is especially reassuring that the largest protest demonstrations and show of solidarity with the people of Palestine have been not in the Arab world but in Europe and Latin America. The Palestinian question is not a Muslim, but a human question.

In India, in sharp contrast to the decades-old national consensus, the new National Democratic Alliance government did not even allow a discussion on the issue in Parliament though it had to bow to global sentiment in the UN and vote with the overwhelming majority of member countries in censuring Israel. Outside Parliament, many secular groups have organised pro-Palestine solidarity marches in different parts of the country. But to anyone who reads Urdu papers it appears that for far too many Indian Muslims, Palestine is a religious problem.

To the Muslim religious leadership and the Urdu media in India I have a few questions to ask. Are you agonising over the pain and suffering of “fellow Muslims” or of “fellow humans”? Why the inflamed sentiments over ongoing atrocities in Gaza/Palestine but near silence over the virtually parallel mass crimes being committed in neighbouring Iraq by a rogue army that calls itself the Islamic State (formerly Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) and is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who has declared himself as the new “Caliph” of the entire Muslim world? The claim of being a Caliph has been treated by most as a silly joke, I know. But what about the crimes of his followers?


Related articles: Garga Chatterjee: Earning the right to stand with Gaza 
Islamic State persecution of Yazidi minority amounts to genocide, UN says 
Human rights in Pakistan - the continued persecution of Asia Bibi

Am I suggesting moral equivalence between the misdeeds of an elected government that is accountable to the UN and other international fora with that of an army of non-state extremists? No. But what about the fact that the ISIS claims to act in the name of Islam, a religion we proclaim is a religion of peace? Shouldn’t we be shouting and screaming louder than anyone else since the “Islamic State” is supposedly acting in your name and mine?

Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani author and expert on the growth of Islamist extremism in the region, sees the Islamic State as the “new Taliban”.
Since capturing large parts of Iraq and Syria in the last few months, the Islamic State has being enforcing a version of Islam on fellow Sunnis (globally the major sect among Muslims) which even the Al Qaeda is unable to digest. As in case of the Taliban, women are the worst victims. Among other things, they have been forced behind the all-embracing burqa (only eyes may be seen), are not permitted to appear in any public place without a male chaperon. Shias, for the Islamic State, are apostates who deserve to be killed.

If the Islam that the Islamic State is forcing on fellow Sunni Muslims deserves the strongest condemnation, al-Baghdadi’s ultimatum a fortnight ago to the 5,000 odd Christians of Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city now under their control — is despicable to say the least: Convert to Islam, leave Morsul, pay jaziya ($450 per family, per month according to some reports) or face the sword. Needless to say, the hapless Christians have fled the city en masse.  Christianity in Iraq is as old as the religion itself. “Two thousand years of beautiful history, where the Christians and Muslims for centuries had helped each other, but now it’s the end of Christianity in Mosul. It’s dreadful news,” laments Father Andrzej Halemba, West Asian coordinator for Aid to the Church in Need.

An Australian radio news channel has reported: “In Mosul, ISIS fighters have daubed the letter ‘N’ for Nazarene, or Christian, on the walls of Christian-owned houses before rounding up the residents and stripping them of their money, jewellery and even mobile phones. Another report quotes human rights lawyer Nina Shea as saying: ‘One old woman had her life savings of $40,000,’ and she said, ‘Can I please have $100?’ and they said no. They took wedding rings off fingers, chopping off fingers if they couldn’t get the ring off.”

Spare a thought for Mahmoud Al Asali, a law professor at the University of Mosul. Al Asali had the courage to assert that the ultimatum to Christians was contrary to the teachings of Islam. He was promptly executed. Forced to flee Mosul, most Christians have found safety and shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan where 94 per cent of the population is Muslim. But the Islam they practice in the autonomous region is different from the one that the Islamic State is forcibly imposing on others. In June 2012, the Kurdish regional government had declared that education in schools will henceforth be religiously neutral; students will be taught all the great religions of the world on an equal basis.

The responses of the late professor Al Asali, Kurds from Kurdistan and the Shias from Najaf and Karbala to the pain and suffering of the displaced Christians of Mosul show that, as in case of the global protest against the plight of Palestinians, for them too it is not a question of religion but that of our common humanity. The atrocities being perpetrated by the Islamic State have as little to do with Islam as the tyranny of Zionists has to do with Judaism.
The writer is co-editor, Communalism Combat and general secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy
http://www.asianage.com/columnists/human-question-042

Ahmad Rashid - ISIS: The New Taliban
.... where the lack of leadership is most visible is in the Muslim world itself—from politicians, generals, and senior religious leaders in each country. Instead of a vast public movement to condemn ISIS and other such groups, there is silence, helplessness, and hopelessness. Across the region, leaders like Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq, Gulf regimes like Saudi Arabia, and many African governments, are autocratic, corrupt, cowardly, and incompetent; and nowhere is civil society strong enough to demand greater action against extremism. Rather than present Islam as a tolerant religion capable of building a modern social contract, each state blames outsiders for conspiring against it. The most commonly accused culprits are obviously the Americans, followed closely by Israel, Europe, and neighbors.
Still more dangerously, some Muslim states, including both Iraq and Pakistan, also blame minorities for state failure, and so do not defend them when they are attacked by extremists such as the Taliban or ISIS. The Sunni extremist movements that are murdering civilians today in Africa and Asia are all fighting for a deeply intolerant interpretation of Islam, seeking to impose a ruthless system of justice and punishment that targets women and adherents of other branches of Islam—especially Shias.
The ISIS campaign against Shias has surpassed anything carried out by the Taliban or al-Qaeda. In its so-called bid to cleanse all schisms from Islam, ISIS represents the worst kind of schism. If ISIS succeeds in attacking Shia holy sites in the Iraqi cities of Karbela and Najaf as it has promised to do, then the Islamic world will be plunged into a sectarian war of unimaginable dimensions. If such actions are taken we can expect conflict between Sunni and Shia that could last for years to come. Already, there is an ominous rapid growth of Shia militias in Iraq in response to the ISIS advances.
The primary political task of the United States and its allies is to get Iran and Saudi Arabia to end their hostility and come together to deal with the present crisis in the wider Muslim world. Both countries are more responsible than others for creating the current wave of extremism, including in Iraq. Since its 1979 revolution Iran has funded, armed, and trained Shia militias, terrorist groups, and Shia activists in many parts of the Muslim world, particularly Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.
Since the 1970s the Saudis have used their extraordinary wealth to arm and fund extremist Sunni movements everywhere, of many different stripes and shades. Any group opposed to Shias and purporting a Sunni sectarian view or ideology considered close to the Saudi sect of Wahhabism has been deemed sufficiently sympathetic to receive Saudi funding—whether it was in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa or across the Middle East. (While there is not clear evidence of direct Saudi support for ISIS, Saudi funding of Islamic groups fighting in Syria has helped strengthen the jihadist cause.)'' read the full article:
http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/jul/02/iraqs-new-taliban/

Irfan Al-Alawi - Sunni Muslims Must Reject ISIS ‘Caliphate’

Sunni Arab militants in northern Iraq are hunting down and killing large numbers of minority Yazidis, acts which amount to genocide, according to a senior United Nations official. On Sunday, fighters from the self-declared Islamic State overran the city of Sinjar, part of a widening offensive that on Thursday saw IS take control of other Christian and Yzedi towns on the Nineveh plains. According to UN officials and Yazidi elders, the militants have killed hundreds of Yazidis, a secretive faith with pre-Islamic roots. Others have been taken as slaves. Tens of thousands have taken refuge on Sinjar Mountain, their traditional refuge over centuries of persecution, and are appealing for emergency aid.   Unlike Christians, who have been told they must either pay a religious tax or convert to Islam to avoid death, the Yazidis are considered by Sunni militants to be infidels who deserve extermination...
See also

Mahmoud Mohammed Taha (Author of Second Message of Islam)also known as Ustaz Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, was a Sudanese religious thinker, leader, and trained engineer. He was executed for apostasy at the age of 76 by the regime of Gaafar Nimeiry(See his Court statement)
THE MODERATE MARTYR - A radically peaceful vision of Islam