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Monday, October 30, 2006

Hijab Ban and Silent Crusade Against Islam in Tunisia

Assalamu Alaikum,
Tunisia bans hijab women face police assultsFrance ban on wearing hijabs (headscarves) in schools and British MP Jack Straw’s recent comments against veils drew worldwide Muslim condemnation while being widely publicized by the mainstream media. Now Tunisian Government has enforced a law that states Tunisian women can no longer wear the hijab! But unlike France or England the Tunisian Governments preposterous ban has hardly reached the ears of Muslims outside Tunisia let alone being condemned.

The Tunisian government has succeeded in keeping the news away from the Muslim masses outside of its borders. As expectable Western Governments or the international media downplayed the Tunisian governments preposterous law that grossly violates basic human rights, fearing of uproar amongst the already frustrated Arab Muslims would fuel the emergence of Islamic governments in place of west dependent despotic Arab regimes. More pathetic was the indifference from few non-Tunisian Muslims privy to the illusive news item.

Protect Tunisian Muslim girls women hijab rightOwing to its French colonial legacy Tunisia is the most western Arab-Muslim country. This is reflected by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ali enforcing the ban and describing the hijab as a sectarian form of dress, which had come into Tunisia uninvited! Observers say the recent years have seen an increase in Islamic sentiments among Tunisians and the increasing number of women starting to wear the hijab despite government efforts to stem the Islamic revival had caused them to move towards banning the hijab.

However justifying the hijab ban on "sectarian" grounds is absurd in a society where 98% of the population is Muslim. It also violates basic personal freedom guaranteed by the Tunisian constitution which also states Tunisia is an “Islamic country”. Added to this the law brazenly violates the basics rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to freedom of religion and choose the clothes which suit him/her.

hijab women's human rightIn fact the Government is crushing Islam in Tunisia while at the same time trying to avoid charges of being un-Islamic. In the 1990s President Ben Ali crushed Tunisia’s Islamic opposition party when fighting erupted in neighbouring Algeria between Islamic movements and the military Government. He has forbidden Dawah activities in Tunisia and stipulated only personnel appointed by the Government may lead activities in mosques and that mosques must remain closed except during prayer times and other authorized religious ceremonies, such as marriages or funerals.

The current hijab debate, which started earlier this year and dating back to a 1981 government circular has ended in a dangerous crackdown on any woman, girl or child wearing a Hijab. It has even included the Hijab-clad Fulla dolls, which inspired millions of Muslim girls worldwide. Last month Tunisia security forces raided soft-toy shops across the country to withdraw the Fulla dolls.

Veiled Tunisian girls face descrimination"Sign here, take this piece of rubbish off your head and go home! Never ever think of going back to school with it. Right now, I am going to attach it to this sheet of paper in which you declared your full compliance with circular 108. Don’t you understand! There is no place in our schools for fundamentalists. We are a modern country!” Fatima the 18-year-old school girl stood as if pinned to the ground in a state of bewilderment, listening carefully to a zealot policeman whose sole mission has been to frighten and punish women, university students and schoolgirls who challenge the hijab ban and force to sign a form, which says they will never ever wear the hijab again.

Many Tunisians are upset by the ban but they fear to protest, as the Tunisian Government does not tolerate dissent.

However are we going to stand idly while anti-Islamic forces are at work against Islam in Muslim Tunisia? Please consider signing the petition to eliminate the Hijab ban in Tunisia and spread the news to stop this ban once and forever, because once one Muslim country bans the Hijab then many are likely to follow.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Islam and Muslim

Assalamu Alaikum,
What you think on Islam and MuslimNajma Perera is from Sri Lanka. She is a convert to Islam. I came across a short article written by her to a Sinhala Islamic periodical. I like to share it with you. The following is that article 'Islam and Muslim'.

Sometimes in the Muslim society you may come across Muslims with bad behavior. Then you may wonder if Islam is the only true religion revealed to us by Almighty Allah, why don't all Muslims live according to its teachings.

Here we would like to make a very important point. That is, religion and its teachings is one thing. However people and their behavior is another. Therefore an honest seeker of truth must focus their attention to the religion and its teachings, not to those who claim to be followers of that religion and behave wrongly.

If someone drives a latest Rolls-Royse car and meets with an accident, will it be the driver’s responsibility? Or the manufacturer of that car, the Rolls-Royse Company’s? Certainly it is the driver’s mistake and not the mistake of the company that manufactured the car.

Today like in any society, there are good and bad people within the Muslim society. Like others Muslims can be with various human weaknesses. Some Muslims level of belief can be very low due to lack of education or religious knowledge, the effects of external forces in the surrounding environment etc. Among them sometimes you may meet some Muslims who have completely left the folds of belief.

Some day they'll have to pay back for their wrongs and in the presence of Allah will have to answer for everything they did in their lifetime.

Though they call themselves Muslims they act like there is no connection between their Muslim names, their behavior or that in their hearts.

This is not the fault of Islam.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

BBC Props US Agenda on North Korea

Assalamu Alaikum,
North Korea BBC News biasOver the years BBC has improved a great deal on objective and impartial news coverage. However when it comes to reporting on Muslims or events related to war on terror the biasness appears to continue. I wrote about one instance here. As an international news network this is not acceptable from BBC because it reinforces prejudice and creates misunderstanding. This week I came across this distorted report not on Muslims but very similar to bias reporting on Muslim and Islamic issues.

I was really irked by BBC’s distorted report - Timeline: North Korea. Subtitled, “A chronology of key events,” this report is read by millions online and used as a source by journalist across the world. Apart from the disregard for journalistic objectivity by the characterization of North Korea, the report twists history and omits details to suit the American version of the story.

North Korea PeopleThe BBC timelines note for 2005 September reads as, “Fourth round of six-nation talks on [North Korea’s] nuclear programme concludes. North Korea agrees to give up its weapons in return for aid and security guarantees. But it later demands a civilian nuclear reactor.” Thereafter it moves on to the next note leaving the reader with the impression of a walkout and an outrageous demand by North Korea. This is a distortion of last year’s six-nation talks.

In September 2005 talks, agreement was reached for North Korea to suspend its nuclear programme in return for economic assistance and normalization of ties with the United States. The agreement also said the United States would also supply civilian nuclear reactors if North Korea gave up its nuclear programme.

Now if the United States was really serious, they could have solved the nuclear dispute amicably at this round of talks. But what happened next compliments my post - Nuking over Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Four days after the agreement, the United States Treasury Department froze North Korean asserts and imposed financial sanctions, alleging that North Korea was involved in counterfeiting dollars and money laundering. The BBC timeline makes no mention of this important juncture, which caused North Korea to walkout.

North Korea SoldiersSelig S. Harrison writes in Newsweek International - North Korea: A Nuclear Threat, “Whatever the truth, I found on a recent trip to Pyongyang that North Korean leaders view the financial sanctions as the cutting edge of a calculated effort by dominant elements in the [Bush] administration to undercut the Sept. 19 accord, squeeze the Kim Jong Il regime and eventually force its collapse. My conversations made clear that North Korea's missile tests in July and its threat last week to conduct a nuclear test explosion at an unspecified date "in the future" were directly provoked by the U.S. sanctions.”

All these facts of recent history is conveniently omitted and twisted by BBC Timeline news report, questioning its objectives and credibility.

Related Posts: ‘Cool Muslimah’ gives an account of BBC psychological manipulation during the recent Lebanon crisis in her post - happenings of this month.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nuking over Iran's Nuclear Program

Assalamu Alaikum,
An Iran Nuclear ReactorWith North Korea going nuclear it has managed to grab the limelight away from Iran’s uranium enrichment activities. For Tehran it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Yet it will probably return to haunt Iran though North Korea poses a far greater risk to American, Russian, Japanese and Chinese security.

However unlike North Korea, the case against Iran happens to rely heavily on suspicions and prejudice than solid evidence. The contentions against them like ‘international communities concerns’ and the ‘threat to Israel’ are nothing but cloaks to protect major powers interests at the expense of Muslim countries continued serfdom. At last months Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, the 118 nations in their final declaration endorsed Iran’s right to conduct peaceful nuclear programs. Thus virtually reducing these ‘international concerns’ to a minority global view fashioned by major powers national interest. As for Israel’s concerns, as long as it exists neighbouring countries like Iran will always have a very real security threat from Israel’s nuclear arsenal of more than 400 nuclear warheads directed at targets in Iran and other Muslim countries.

President George W Bush with Israel flagCommenting on this issue a political analyst notes, “the American orchestrated ‘sanctions’ debate now underway in the UN Security council over Iran’s right to enrich uranium even for peaceful purposes is no more than a public charade to cloak America’s hidden agenda – a unilateral military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.” He adds, “the same Bush administration did the same thing over Iraq. They screwed Saddam to make sure he wouldn’t use WMDs Bush knew he didn’t have.” Yes, it’s the same old game with a different pawn.

Ironically the very nation opposed to Iran acquiring any nuclear capability happens to possess thousands of nukes with a combined capacity to kill 60 billion people in other words 10 times the current world population! A decade ago they could only offer instant oblivion up to a maximum of around five times. As if that’s not terrifying the American Military experts believe that continuous development of bigger and more powerful nuclear weapons are the only sure way to put an end to the arms race.

In April this year The New Yorker revealed that the Pentagon was actually preparing not just a military strike on Iran but nuclear strikes because some analysts were insisting that only American nuclear warheads could guarantee the elimination of Tehran’s nascent nuclear capability. President Bush’s response to the stunning charge was anything but a denial: “All options are on the table.”

An Nuclear bomb ExplosionTad Daley from the anti-nuclear organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), asks, “How can we contemplate nuking people who might nuke people to show that nuking people is wrong? A western state appears prepared to employ the nuclear weapon to stop a Muslim state from even seeking the clear weapon. Witness the full depth of the irony here. It’s an irony so towering, so obvious and so unsubtle, that – if it happens –surely not a single member of the world’s Islamic community will fail to take notice.”

Daley says, “Some both anoint themselves as able to be trusted with nuclear weapons and arrogate to themselves the task of assessing whether others meet their tests. President Bush has often let slip this conceit of cultural superiority. ‘We owe it to our children,’ he said in August 2002, ‘to free the world from weapons of mass destruction in the hands of those who hate freedom’.”

As ironies go, it was only three years ago that the United States defied the United Nations to show Saddam Hussein that he could not get away with defying the United Nations, says Daley. “Now, the Bush administration is apparently prepared to breach the NPT [Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty] to show Mahamoud Ahmadinejad that he cannot get away with breaching the NPT.” And that too on suspicions because Iran has continually insisted that its program is for peaceful purposes exercising it rights as a sovereign nation.

“We are the ones who created these weapons in the past. We are the ones contemplating the use of these weapons in the present. We are the ones who vaingloriously insist that we – but not others- must perpetually possess these weapons into the future. And now, we are the ones who may soon feel the wrath of these weapons brought down upon ourselves. We are the ones who maybe the authors of our own annihilations. We are the ones, perhaps, who will be devoured by our own creation. In the end, that could turn out to be the greatest irony of all,” concludes Daley.

Iran President Mahamoud Ahmadinejad at UNIranian President rightly addressed this issue when he appeared before the UN General Assembly last month. In his speech he referred to the expansion of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. “Some powers proudly announce their production of second and third generation nuclear weapons. What do they need these weapons for? Is the development and stock pilling of these deadly weapons designed to promote peace and democracy? Or are these weapons, in fact, instruments of coercion and threat against other peoples and governments? How long should the people of the world live with the nightmare of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons? To what length can powers producing and possessing these weapons go? How can they be held accountable before the international community?” he asked. But the answers were not forthcoming.

When America and other world powers are fully armed with nuclear weapons, their concerns for nuclear proliferation is nothing but hypocrisy. Their concern is more an effort to protect their exclusivity to nuclear weapons and prevent others from challenging their hegemonic control of the world.

Ultimately it boils down to the fact that no major power be it America, France, Russia or China is willing to see the emergence of any strong Muslim nation that could challenge their hegemony in the oil rich Middle-East.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

20 Billion Dollar profit from 1991 Gulf War for USA

Assalamu Alaikum,
War in Iraq Arguably the second Gulf war is now over. As the result we have a ‘liberated’ country with a freefalling population and a foreign occupation continuing to harvest the disguised fruits like in a bygone era. Meanwhile I am told the previously estimated appalling death toll of 100,000 human lives is a gross underestimation. A latest joint US-Iraqi survey has estimated 655,000 Iraqis or 2.5 percent of Iraq's population have died as a result of the 2003 US-UK invasion of Iraq.

While the “United States operation for Iraqi Freedom” continues to move forward over the bodies of Iraqis, it is worth reviewing the first Gulf War. The following is my translation of an article published in Sinhala language by the newspaper ‘Hiru’ at beginning of Iraq invasion in 2003.

At that time it was said the first Gulf war was for the “freedom” of Kuwaitis and Iraqis. But a glace at the profit/loss account of the war led by George Bush senior may suggest otherwise. Thereby we can envisage how the profit-loss will be of the second Gulf War.

What was the cost of 1991 first Gulf War?

It was US$ 40 billion.

Have you thought about who paid this money?

The general public believes the Unite States paid for the cost of the war. But the truth is very different. Out of the US$ 40 billion the US spent only US$ 10 billion or 25%. The rest US$ 30 billion comprising 75% of the war budget was spent by Arab country’s Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

How did they get this money?

Before the war the average price of a barrel of crude oil was 15 US$. With the Gulf war it increased to 42 US$. There by they got an extra profit of US$ 60 billion.

To whom did this profit go?

According to the “50% -50%” law in Arab countries 50% of it belonged to the governments. The other 50% went to the multinational oil companies controlling the oilfields.

That means US$ 30 billion for those companies and the other US$ 30 billion for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Who owns those companies?

Middle-East oil exploration and trade is under 7 companies (Shell, Mobil, Esso etc.). All these companies are American. The US Government owns 5 of them. Therefore from the 30 billion dollar profit for these companies, about 21 billion belonged to the American government and the remaining 9 billion to the American private sector.

Lets look at it like this.
The cost, profit details in tabular format

Now it’s clear. From the first Gulf War the United States earned a profit of 20 billion dollars.

For what was the 40 billion dollars spent in the war?

That was for weapons. Americans have a total control over this weapons industry. So America got a 20 billion profit from oil. And also most of the 40 billion dollar war cost from weapon sales.

Now it is easy to understand two other important issues.

1. Reason for Afghanistan war
2. Reason for 2003 Iraq war

The first target of Afghanistan war was to install a puppet government. Thereafter gain the opportunity to build a 2500 km long, American owned oil pipeline to pump oil from the oil rich central Asian states (Uzbekistan, etc.) to the Arabian Sea.

If the oil pipeline cutting across many countries were to be built avoiding Afghanistan it would be 5500 km long. Thereby making it difficult to build and maintain.

Why did Bush junior want to attack Iraq again?

Saudi Arabia is the main Middle-East oil supplier. United States wouldn’t be able to amend the increasingly fracturing ties with Saudi Arabia. And also because of its human rights record Saudi Arabia is an internationally disgraced country. Furthermore the 3 years leading to 2003 saw some revolutionary changes taking place in Venezuela. Venezuela is United States main oil supplier.

Therefore Bush aim was to find an alternative oil source to Middle-East Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

Wasn’t Iraq an alternative?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pakistan Kashmir Earthquake - A Year Later

Assalamu Alaikum,
Quake affected area mapToday marks the first anniversary of the horrific earthquake that hit parts of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan in October 8, 2005. To be honest back then I was busy in my own world struggling to cope with my studies and other problems and the earthquake had only been a news item that caused some momentary sadness but soon faded away to be replaced by other things. Sadly it’s only now I understand the its gravity and the misery it caused.

Here are the numerical figures of the earthquake from pakistaniat.com

Total dead in Earthquake = 80,000 - 90,000
Estimated proportion of children amongst dead = 80 percent
(note: 18,000 children had died while at school)

Total displaced by Earthquake = 3,500,000
Affected still living in tents in camps = 35,000 - 40,000
At-risk families without permanent shelter = 60,000 - 100,000
Additional people who might need shelter this winter = 30,000 - 60,000

Estimated houses destroyed = 400,000
Estimated houses whose rebuilding has begun = 17%

Early recovery assistance pledged by international donors = US$ 255 Million
Early recovery pledges that have NOT been received yet = US$ 94 Million

Original estimate of long-term reconstruction costs = US$ 3.6 Billion
Current estimate of long-term reconstruction costs = US$ 4.4 Billion
Current estimated shortfall = US$ 800 Million

tents surrounded by rubblesYesterday I watched in TV as they aired a short documentary about this horrific earthquake and the destruction it had caused. They were describing and showing the rubbles and the squalid conditions many survivors were living. YaAllah it was dreadful. A victim interviewed said he only wanted some building material to rebuild his house so that he can move his family to it. He was still living in a makeshift tent with his family. This is only one mans story, how many maybe out there? Looking at those fragile tents and huts it’s a wonder they survived the harsh Himalayan winter just after the earthquake in those conditions.

What was even more painful to see was their devotion to Almighty Allah. One would expect after such a calamity to see peoples faith weakened. But not this peoples. They were praying among the rubbles outside their tents and in makeshift tent mosques. They were finding faith in Allah to be so consoling to the misery around them. Even the western journalist from that documentary was moved by these people’s faith and attitude towards Islam in the face of absolute wretchedness and a bleak future. It reminded me of the Asian Tsunami, in which religious people were awestruck by the power at God command while for the atheists it was confirmation of the non-existence of God. Indeed calamities are a test of our faith. I pray YaAllah may you help these people and grant them good in this life and the hereafter. Ameen.

An injured childAs usual the ATP website has put up a great post - Picture of the Day: Forgotten - covering a broad range of issues concerning the earthquake from philanthropy to failure of proper disaster management to lack of sufficient media attention towards the whole issue during the past several months until the anniversary. The last sentence of it is so true I’ll repeat it here, “Everyone, and I mean everyone, will say that we must not forget the events of October 8, 2005. And then everyone – nearly everyone – will do exactly that. Forget.”

Monday, October 02, 2006

Truth and Myth of Pakistan and USA

Assalamu Alaikum,

Book Cover: In the Line of FireIt is better late than never President Musharraf told the truth about Bush government threatening to attack his nation with bombs, killing the nations civilians and putting them into the Stone Age. This was what political analyst had suspected from the very beginning. I suspect this may only be the tip of the iceberg, nevertheless we have reached the next phase of awareness.

Given the circumstances of that time period it seems that was the only option for a pariah Military ruler of a third world country. Pakistan might be a nuclear power but it lacks the economic clout of a strong nation. For all we know US would have nuked Pakistan and destroyed its entire society and the American people and the world would have justified it. They can lie and lie successfully but they cannot hide the truth. I am sure Pakistan was not the only nation bullied and coerced to toe the line.

US Bombing in Afghan rural areaBut why should America bomb Pakistan? Pakistan didn’t do the 9/11. Why should America hurt innocent people and reduce a country of 140 million people to rubbles? If they ‘suspect’ Pakistan has terrorist they should work within the framework of law not undermine it and create a state of lawless breeding grounds of terrorists. What evil force drives the ‘land of the free’ –The United States of America? Is this what US democracy is all about in the 21st century, threatening and bribing other leaders and governments into passive submission?

Presidents Musharraf and BushPartners in the ‘War against Terror’ are indeed not but the coerced and fearful of being bombed like Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and others. America has destroyed entire nations with ruthless bombing and a conviction based on suspicion. Even neo-cons are finding it impalpable as the realities of the ‘War on Terror’ unfolds. “Just agree with everything we say or else we will fire up our army and make a fortune from the reconstruction of your country,” This is the United States way of dealing with anything against its interests. This is tyranny at its worst and most disgraceful. Attack anyone who doesn't fold to your demands. Thus it’s not surprising to see despite Musharraf's comments Bush is still trying to keep him in the ranks.

Since climbing the Bush bandwagon, Pakistan has obediently killed thousands of its civilians (so easily termed and forgotten as “Al-Qaeda” terrorist) and jailed many more to a fate unknown. All this for the good will and green bucks doled out by the western masters as trips to White House and economic aid. Pakistan should fight terrorism not for the Americans but for Almighty Allah because it is an evil and harmful thing for mankind. The Muslim people today also ask all Muslim rulers WHY they became complicit in the American "Al-Qaeda" manipulation?

Frequent Power cuts in PakistanAmerican pressure is not the only issue facing Pakistan. Poverty, corruption, bribery, nepotism is breeding like cancer in Pakistan but the rich are getting fatter and fatter. Although a lot of effort is devoted to giving the best possible spin to the economic picture, all is not well on that front. The country's infrastructure is revoltingly inadequate while half the population remains illiterate. Dreadful tribal practices still exist and hound the country in an appalling way. Pakistan remains hopelessly dependent on multi-lateral and bilateral aid givers both for development and rehabilitation efforts. That is why economic aid (in other words “bribe” for cooperation) is so tantalizingly attractive. Governance is abysmally bad and the political will to set things right is conspicuously absent. Politicians and affluent Pakistanis remain deaf and blind to the plight of the least privileged in their society. The political and military class continues to make hay with or without sunshine. Public opinion is ignored for the reason that it is not backed by adequate muscle. Whatever happens Pakistanis have allowed it…

When will Pakistani people demonstrate the People Power to set things correct which today is conspicuously absent? Pakistan eagerly awaits for Muslims who will do something that will affect brothers and sisters of the next generation in a way that will not produce any sad tears and bloodshed.