Infrastructure of anti-Muslim Hate in the US

From the Washington Post

The dismissal of Juan Williams’ from NPR once again exposes the difficulty America is having discussing Islam in a cool or rational manner. Williams’ exchange with Bill O’Reilly featured much of the usual ignorance, with both agreeing that, although undefined “good Muslims” do exist, all Muslims must be considered potential soldiers in an Islamic war against America. This ludicrous belief is not only a distortion of reality, but also poses a serious threat to the well-being and security of the United States. In adopting this position, Williams and O’Reilly were reflecting the climate of hatred against Muslims that is fueled by prejudice and lack of knowledge.

The controversy comes in the context of the conflict around the Islamic center near Ground Zero, Pastor Terry Jones’ desire to burn the Quran, a growing belief that sharia law is being imposed on America by Muslims, and increasing attacks on mosques in the United States. The interminable wars in Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the upcoming midterm elections, in which campaigns have employed heavy doses of anti-Muslim bile, also contribute to the darkening storm.

Today’s high anti-Muslim antipathy is the latest wave of xenophobia in a nation that has seen many, especially when a threat was perceived to the country. While current anti-Islamic voices, like the hatemongers of previous eras, frequently attempt to co-opt the Founding Fathers’ ideals to support their agenda, there can be no reconciling the vision of a pluralistic nation with the spewing of hate against a particular ethnic or religious group, in this case Muslims. While the debate stirred by these hateful voices is on one level about Islam and how to depict and understand it, it is also about the very definition of American identity.

Much of this bigotry and misinformation can be traced directly to what I am calling the infrastructure of hate, an industry which connects venomous anti-Islamic blogs, wealthy donors, powerful think tanks, and influential media commentators, journalists, and politicians. The most visible component of the infrastructure is the hate blogs, which have recently grown exponentially in number, influence, and stature.

From my position as a research fellow working with American University’s Chair of Islamic Studies, Professor Akbar Ahmed, I have watched with horror as the hate blogs have begun to diffuse from their online cesspool to infect mainstream media, political rhetoric, and the larger discussion about Islam in America. There are hundreds, if not thousands of such blogs on the Internet.

To the hate bloggers, the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims represent an insidious, inherently violent force seeking to enslave the United States by overthrowing the government and jettisoning the Constitution in favor of sharia law. Frequently the bloggers include caveats such as claiming that they are only talking about “Islamists,” “Islamofascists,” or those supporting “sharia,” but by tying terrorism explicitly to the Prophet Muhammad and to the Quran, they equate it with Islam. Under this simplistic, warped logic, every Muslim is a potential, if not-fully formed, terrorist and every one of America’s seven million Muslims a potentially treasonous enemy. Such crass, demonizing generalizations constitute hate speech.

I will focus on one such blog post to illustrate how the infrastructure of hate works, and how easily lies and slander can spread rapidly to achieve influence.
Last month, Laura Rubenfeld, an analyst at the Investigative Project on Terrorism headed by Steven Emerson, published an article in Pajamas Media tiitled “No, Professor Ahmed, the Founders Were Not So Fond of Islam.” In it, Rubenfeld attacks Professor Akbar Ahmed, who has been speaking in the media about his new book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, for which he traveled to over 100 mosques in 75 U.S. cities. I participated in this study with Ahmed, traversing the country during fieldwork and spending weeks in the library researching the history of Islam in America. Since Ahmed’s media statements reflect the contents of the book, Rubenfeld not only impugns the scholarship of Ahmed, whom the BBC calls the “world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam,” but also myself and the other four researchers who spent several years working on this project, three of whom are continuing on to PhD programs.

Ahmed’s main argument in these media appearances was that Americans should welcome Muslims as full citizens as the Founding Fathers did, and quoted their views on Islam, which Rubenfeld found intolerable. As such, her article is a piece of pseudo-scholarship rife with distortion, slander, omission, and outright lies.

Rubenfeld endeavors to demonstrate that the Founding Fathers actually hated Islam, recognizing it for the threatening, destructive force she believes it to be. She begins by denying Ahmed’s assertion that John Adams called the Prophet Muhammad a great truth seeker, saying that he “said absolutely nothing of the kind.” This claim is false. To Adams, Prophet Muhammad was one of the world’s “sober inquirers after truth” alongside such figures as Confucius and Socrates. For Prophet Muhammad and other great sages of history, Adams wrote, the “happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue.” Adams believed that Americans should consider the example of these sages to create a society based on virtue and happiness rather than “fear,” which he called the “foundation of most governments.”

After calling Ahmed a liar for citing the above passage, Rubenfeld quotes a letter Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in which he calls the Prophet Muhammad “a military fanatic.” She again fails to put the statement in context. In the letter, Adams cited Prophet Muhammad in the context of a discussion on Napoleon, whom he called a “fanatic,” not in a religious sense but meaning that he relied on the military as a source of his might: “Napoleon is a military fanatic like Achilles, Alexander, Caesar, Mahomet, Zingis, Kouli, Charles XII. The maxim and principle of all of them was the same. ‘Jura negat sibi lata, nihil non arrogat armis (He denies that laws were made for him; he arrogates everything to himself by force of arms).'” Adams is not singling out the Prophet as some kind of religious militant, as Rubenfeld implies, but comparing the Prophet to Napoleon in including him in a list of the most famous and brilliant military geniuses in history. For Adams, Prophet Muhammad existed in two categories, that of great religious sage and also that of head of state and military commander, the only figure to feature in both. While Adams valued the example of the Prophet as religious sage in imagining the United States, he hoped that the era of the military general as head of state might give way to democracy and usher in a new age in world history. The letter is still loaded with nuance, such as when Adams wonders if Napoleon’s ascendency in France is not as “legitimate and authentic” in the context of that nation as “the election of Washington to the command of our army or to the chair of State?” We can agree or disagree with Adams’ analysis, but Rubenfeld insults him by so disingenuously distorting the meaning of what he has written.

Rubenfeld’s various other assertions are laughable, such as her attempt to prove Adams’ unfavorable view of Islam by quoting the Orientalist-style forward from his copy of the Quran. Yes, she cites a forward Adams did not author as exposing his true feelings about Islam. She also absurdly quotes at length his son John Quincy Adams’ critical views of Islam. John Quincy Adams is not a Founding Father and was a child when the nation was being created.

Ahmed’s correct contention that Thomas Jefferson hosted the first iftar at the White House is also too much for Rubenfeld, who writes that Jefferson was not holding an iftar but merely being “polite” to the Tunisian ambassador, in whose honor the dinner was given. I would only ask Rubenfeld if she is even aware what an iftar is, as the invitation Jefferson sent to the ambassador stated that the White House dinner was being moved from the customary “half after three” to “precisely at sunset” to accommodate the ambassador’s religious obligation. This means that Jefferson scheduled the dinner specially to ensure that the Ramadan fast would be broken at the proper time as mandated by the Quran, which apparently did not satisfy Rubenfeld’s iftar requirements.
The most loathsome claim in Rubenfeld’s article, however, comes in her discussion of Benjamin Franklin’s views of Islam. As with Adams, she completely dismisses Ahmed’s assertion that Franklin viewed the Prophet Muhammad as a model of compassion. Instead of quoting Franklin on the compassion of the Prophet, which I have written about here, or his desire to see the head cleric of Istanbul preach Islam to Americans from a Philadelphia pulpit Franklin had funded, she quotes Franklin saying that the Quran commands the “plundering of infidels.”

The problem is that this example is from a satirical newspaper article Franklin wrote in support of the abolition movement. Surely Rubenfeld would have known the difference. Or was she hoping that her audience would not? Franklin wrote the article, under an alias, in response to Congressman James Jackson of Georgia, who gave an angry speech in Congress denouncing Franklin for advocating abolition and arguing that the enslavement of blacks is a Christian commandment justified in the Bible. In Franklin’s satirical piece, he put Jackson’s arguments into the mouth of a fictional North African Muslim, who argues before his equivalent of Congress, the Divan of Algiers, that the Quran commands the enslavement of white Christians. Christians would be happier, safer, and better clothed and lodged as slaves, the fictional Muslim contends, and besides, the economy of Algiers would be devastated if the Christians were freed. Franklin was attempting to get pro-slavery Americans to see the hypocrisy of their position in using their fallacious logic to present an inverted situation in which they were the potential slaves. It is outrageous that Rubenfeld did not mention this context. If Rubenfeld had any intellectual capacity, she would also recognize how relevant this example is to the hate bloggers’ contention that Islam is inherently violent because nineteen Muslims attacked the U.S. on 9/11. Would Rubenfeld also argue that Congressman Jackson’s Biblical justification means that it is every authentic Christian’s duty to enslave blacks?

As abysmal as Rubenfeld’s reading of American history is, it would appear unwise for her to take on Islamic history. Yet at the end of the article she darkly and randomly notes that Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, mentions that Ahmed has “written” about Ibn Khaldun, and describes the fourteenth century scholar as a violent Islamic militant seeking to impose a worldwide caliphate. This is risible as Ibn Khaldun was a social scientist widely credited with establishing the discipline of anthropology and the theory of the rise and fall of civilizations, a process he believed had nothing to do with religion. The book Rubenfeld cites as a terrorist text, the Muqaddimah, was named by the famed British historian Arnold Toynbee as “the greatest work ever created by a man of intelligence at any time or anywhere.” Even if she is correct in the preposterous contention that Ibn Khaldun was a terrorist, would it make Ahmed one as well for holding an endowed university chair bearing the same name? An elementary school child would be unable to make sense of such an argument: If Tom likes to ride in a banana boat, does this mean that Tom is a banana?

Reflexively and ridiculously slandering any Muslim who conflicts with their worldview as a terrorist is typical of the anti-Islamic hate blogs. In this case, Rubenfeld implies that Ahmed, by identifying him with Ibn Khaldun, is a threat to the security of the U.S. in his presumed desire to wage “violence against non-Muslims as a religious duty, in order to achieve the larger goal of dismantling non-Muslim civilization and imposing an Islamic caliphate.” Rubenfeld also raises the possibility that General David Petreaus, whom Ahmed has advised, will be “influenced” by Ahmed’s “false teachings,” thereby warning Americans that a terrorist may have access to the highest levels of the U.S. military.
Rubenfeld ignores much in her sinister efforts at character assassination. It is doubtful that a terrorist would be honored with an evensong service at the Washington National Cathedral, likened by senior Christian clergymen to figures including Gandhi and Desmond Tutu, or praised by Elie Wiesel, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi of the U.K.–who called Ahmed a “role model” and “one of the great contemporary exponents of Islam, a man I admire as a scholar and cherish as a friend”–or Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, who thanked Ahmed on behalf of a “deeply appreciative” State of Israel for doing “more than any single individual I know building bridges between Muslims, Jews, [and] Christians.” It is also unlikely that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching would honor such a threat to America as Washington D.C. professor of the year for his work with American students, one of many educational accolades Ahmed has received. Yet none of this matters to Rubenfeld, as it conflicts with the agenda of the hate blogosphere. Ahmed is a Muslim in the media who is saying that Islam is not inherently violent and that Islam and America are compatible. The bigoted bloggers could not permit this. If this kind of defamatory attack could be leveled at such a distinguished, world-renowned scholar, imagine what can be done to Muslims who do not have this background.

Like so many posts, Rubenfeld’s article was circulated incestuously amongst the hate bloggers and caught fire online. In addition to its prominent placement on Pajamas Media, Rubenfeld’s article was featured on the Jawa Report, Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch, Blazing Cat Fur (the blog which hosted an “Everybody Draw Muhammad” contest), the influential political site Free Republic, Tea Party websites, and other blogs including The West, Islam, and Sharia, Project Shining City, Infidel Blogger’s Alliance, Socialism is Not the Answer, the website for America’s Independent Party, and too many others to name. It was also featured on the popular Fark.com, which called the article “interesting.” Fark is one of the top-100 visited English language websites in the world.

There are numerous comments on many of these websites that hail Rubenfeld as a brilliant scholar and thank her for exposing Ahmed’s “lies.” “If this lying professor really does teach at an American university,” read one comment, “I would hope they reconsider renewing his contract before he pollutes more of our students with his lies.” Another further argued that Ahmed “was just following the Koran that instructs Muslims to deceive their enemies (Al-Taqiyya.) […] If you are not a Muslim (Kuffar) the Koran details how to kill, capture, oppress, etc. the unbeliever.” Perhaps the most depressing was from a teacher: “This has now made it into my PUBLIC high school curricula. Long live TRUTH!” The post was widely shared on social networking sites and even featured in a YouTube video.

Some of the blogs that breathlessly featured Rubenfeld’s article do not even attempt to conceal their racism. The Jawa Report, for example, proudly describes itself as a “weblog comparing Muslims to Jawas,” the “typically short rodent-like” sand-dwellers of Star Wars who are described in the film as “disgusting.” A section on the website is entitled “my pet Jawa” implying, (but only satirically, of course!) that Muslims are sub-human creatures suitable to be kept as pets. The Jawa Report also includes pictures of Qurans in toilets, likens Muslim opponents to real-life animals like monkeys and features numerous photos of what its editors call “hot babes” because they are seen as offending the sensibilities of Muslims.

These hate sites are increasingly influencing mainstream media. Virulently anti-Muslim blogger Debbie Schlussel, who openly argues that “we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam,” this summer accused the newly crowned Miss USA, an American Muslim of Lebanese descent, of being a Hezbollah agent because her surname was said to be shared by people linked to the organization. The slanderous claim resulted in the CNN.com headline “Miss USA: Muslim Trailblazer or Hezbollah Spy?” The New York Islamic center controversy brought characters like lead opponents Robert Spencer and recent New York Times profile subject Pamela Geller–who has argued that President Barack Obama is the son of Malcolm X–into the living rooms of millions of Americans. Fox News often relies on such bloggers to comment on Islamic issues.

Part of this emerging reliance of mainstream media on the hate bloggers comes from a genuine desire to understand Islam and the threat of terrorism, as often these blogs and commentators discuss material that the mainstream media has not looked into with as much attention or detail. It is hard for me to think of another reason why the New York Times leaned on the Jawa Report, which it described as “anti-jihadi Internet activists,” for its investigative coverage of the “Jihad Jane” homegrown terrorism case, or why Esquire, while noting its “unsettling anti-Muslim invective,” nevertheless glamorized the website as “laptop James Bonds,” “thrill-seeking,” and “all-American.” Yet it is possible to analyze and understand the threat of terrorism without relying on the bigots. Just as a Ku Klux Klan member would not be asked to advise on issues facing the African American community, responsible people in media and government must keep the bile-spewing anti-Muslim racists away from anything to do with Islam-related subjects.

Government, however, is where such bloggers and commentators have focused a considerable amount of attention in their desire to shape U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Recently, an increasing number of prominent politicians, including members of Congress Michele Bachmann and Pete Hoekstra–the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee–have come out publicly and enthusiastically in support of Frank Gaffney, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and head of a prominent Washington D.C. think tank. Gaffney, who blogs at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace, recently told CNN viewers he is leading an effort to block the construction of American mosques because they are “seditious” and a “cancer” seeking to “destroy Western civilization from within.” With bone-chilling conviction, he asserted that the numbers of American Muslims today are “very small, blessedly. This is the time to stop them.” The influence of the anti-Islamic beltway fearmongers could be seen in Newt Gingrich’s comparison of American Muslims to Nazis, Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey’s assertion that he did not believe American Muslims were entitled to religious freedom, and incendiary, terror-inducing ads and rhetoric in political campaigns nationwide, such as Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s recent warning that Muslims have seized control of two American cities.

I have attempted here to connect some of the dots in the anti-Muslim infrastructure of hate and demonstrate how a blatantly fallacious post like Laura Rubenfeld’s can achieve such prominence and influence. Rubenfeld’s article has all the hallmarks of the anti-Islamic hate blogs: a breathtaking illiteracy of the discussed subject, ad hominem attacks on a prominent Muslim, a crude insinuation of guilt by association, and a substitution of ideology for scholarship. The exact same process of argument, challenge, and refutation utilized above can be applied to nearly every one of the tidal wave of anti-Islamic hate posts.

Much more investigation needs to be done on how various sections of the infrastructure of hate are funded, but one basic link is discernable in the case study presented here. It is no accident that the think tank which employs Rubenfeld, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, is funded by the Los Angeles-based Fairbrook Foundation, the same group–granted IRS 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit charity–that funds Pajamas Media, the website which ran Rubenfeld’s scurrilous hate post. This clearly indicates that there is another level of connection and coordination not apparent to the public.

In their depiction of Islam, the despicable infrastructure of bloggers, think tanks, murky financial backers, and media outlets use the ignorance of the American public about the religion to their advantage, as it can be difficult for well-meaning Americans to distinguish hate speech from critical views of Muslim governments or organizations. That no mainstream American media commentator picked up the larger, more dangerous implications of Juan Williams and Bill O’Reilly’s discussion, for example, is indicative of this reality. The more anti-Islamic hate seeps into the American consciousness, the more likely violence will result from Americans believing it to be their patriotic duty to lash out at Muslim invaders. History shows us that venomous campaigns to demonize a particular religious or ethnic group can have catastrophic consequences.

The vitriolic anti-Islamic voices also help ensure that the actual causes for the problems plaguing the Muslim world–including political, historical, economic, and cultural factors like the turmoil wrought by globalization on traditional societies–are largely ignored by a public still befuddled by Islam nearly a decade after 9/11. Furthermore, the infrastructure’s dissemination of hate does no favors for the U.S. troops, diplomats, and aid workers attempting to win “hearts and minds” in Afghanistan and elsewhere, as the toxic blogs are read and circulated widely in the Muslim world. This hate literature endangers American national security by validating and strengthening Al Qaeda’s contention that the United States is engaged in a war against Islam which Muslims must resist and avenge.

Even more seriously, bloggers like Rubenfeld represent a grave threat to the United States in their distortions of the ideals of the Founding Fathers, which form the bedrock of American identity. In pumping their poison into the public discourse, the bloggers are attacking the entire foundation of the United States as a pluralistic nation that unambiguously mandates religious freedom.

As someone who believes in the Founding Fathers’ vision, I feel a moral compulsion to challenge the forces of hate that are spreading so rapidly. The bloggers’ detrimental, bigoted views represent a dangerous rot that needs to be confronted by all of us. This is not an academic or personal exercise, but a debate about the future of the nation. If the bloggers and the infrastructure of hate they are a part of are not challenged, the pluralist America envisioned by the Founding Fathers will be in ever increasing peril.

Frankie Martin is an Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service.

91 Comments

Filed under Pakistan

91 responses to “Infrastructure of anti-Muslim Hate in the US

  1. libertarian

    Lost this Frankie guy about 2 paragraphs in. Say your piece and make your point. Life’s too short for these rambling moralistic conversations.

  2. amar

    Distrust of muslims grows because muslims treat non-muslims badly but demand good treatment for themselves from non-muslims. They deny non-muslims elementary rights in muslim lands but want extra rights for muslims in non-muslim lands. Frankie Martin does not mention that at all. He puts the blame for the situation on the non-muslims alone.

  3. PMA

    “Much more investigation needs to be done on how various sections of the infrastructure of hate are funded……but one basic link is discernible in the case study presented here……It is no accident that the think tank which employs Rubenfeld, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, is funded by the Los Angeles-based Fairbrook Foundation…..the same group–granted IRS 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit charity–that funds Pajamas Media……the website which ran Rubenfeld’s scurrilous hate post……This clearly indicates that there is another level of connection and coordination not apparent to the public….”

    Amar boy (October 26, 2010 at 10:04 pm) Frankie Martin is talking about you. A bigot is a bigot no matter of what religion. You happen to be an “Indoo Bigot” – of most despicable kind.

  4. Crunchy

    PMA boy, whilst a bigot is a bigot is a bigot, the world is more concerned about the muslim ones right now, having created mayhem for the last 25 years.

  5. PMA

    Crunchy Munchy (October 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm):

    The world is also concerned about the “Indoo Bigots of India”, the kind India produces by the millions; the kind that spreads hatred and kills Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and Dalits by the thousands just in few hours of the day.

  6. Crunchy

    @PMA,

    Oh cmon, its stale, this PTV propaganada of the 1990s. You should have done better.

  7. Watty

    @ amar

    Your succinct interpretation is superb! Most people in US seem totally oblivious of the finer distinctions. Not so in Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested recently that “the approach (to build) a (multicultural) society and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other … has failed, utterly failed” that was with specific reference to Germany’s Muslim population.

    The problem is not with any given individual Muslim(s) or their communities but the baggage of “resurgent Islam” that unwittingly rides on their shoulders preventing their assimilation. Resurgent Islam has wreaked havoc over the peaceful ancient civilizations of the subcontinent and to this day cannibalizes even the moderate factions of fellow Muslims in Pakistan.

    The core principle underlying US immigration policy is “assimilation” – the fact that people may come to US to become Americans!

    Extreme Islam is incapable and least desirous of assimilation. That is the problem – not Muslims per se, a distinction that the liberal left wing in America fails to acknowledge while some among the right wing go overboard by threats to desecrate holy books.

  8. neel123

    Professor Akbar Ahmed and the likes of him do not represent majority Islam, and their moderate view of Islam actually paints an inaccurate picture of the intolerance inherent in Islam practiced in most Muslim nations, starting with Saudi Arabia, the nerve center of Islam.

  9. Hameed

    @PMA: You are the biggest moron and a bigot around here. Imagine you got round to being both at the same time, what a feast. Lost any interest in your drivel long time ago and even less interest in replying to it. If it were not for the BS comment you directed towards Amar’s very real comment I would not have bothered even now. Go crawl back under the proverbial rock. Idiot.

  10. Aman

    Chechenya, Kashmir, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, East Turkistan, Xin Xiang and many more places. There is only one common thread and that is the people against the states are Muslims. So why this overwhelming dissatisfaction of a Muslims against their state? People of these places fight their government. The government which is christian, Jews, Hindus, Buddhist and even Islamic.

  11. Probyn

    @ Aman…

    If that is the deepest analysis of these places and situations that you can offer…
    may I interest you in some used but mint condition ‘radiant way’ books….the comprehension exercises at the end of each are quite a pickle!

  12. amar

    to PMA

    How many well-read articles does one know wherein muslims write about the discrimination, hate, slander, violence, constitutional and legal deprivations etc. against non-muslims in muslim lands? If demographic changes are taken into consideration over the past 1400 years then it is the muslims who have been decimating/ exterminating the non-muslims from region to region. And muslims are taught to be proud about it, to take it as a proof that the “one and only god” is on the muslims’ side. Examine the textbooks used in schools in muslim lands and you shall have your mouth shut through self-disgrace (but I hope you don’t shut your eyes and ears). Muslim children are actually taught to be proud of the aggressions, violences, plunders and defeats which the muslims have inflicted on non-muslims. Do you have a shortened memory of only 20 years? Are you one of those who read only the pro-islamic and pro-muslim versions of past and recent history?

    Non-muslims rightly fear islam and muslims (the past deeds are not forgotten) and if these fears are not taken seriously but ridiculed and devilized, then fears turn into anger and hate and even violence. If muslims want their fears to be taken seriously then they must take the fears of the non-muslims seriously too. Is such a communication taking place?

    Using words like “indoo bigot” only shows the non-readiness (unwillingness? incapability?) to be open-minded.

  13. Probyn

    @ amar…you spaketh:

    ‘How many well-read articles does one know wherein muslims write about the discrimination, hate, slander, violence, constitutional and legal deprivations etc. against non-muslims in muslim lands?’

    the words ‘ wouldn’t know it if you were standing in it’

    were never truer than they are now…

  14. Apart from the politicization of the American media which many Americans find as unpleasant as others do, there is also the question of where these anti-Islamists find their material. I deliberately leave out of this issue the justified Pakistani sneers at the deliberate lies, misquotations, illogic and lack of context in which numerous American ( I hate to identify them as such) commentators indulge for their own political benefit.

    Without understanding anything of the contemporary context of the Prophet’s adverse comments about ‘kaffirs’, they may well be taken as universal permissions to consider even other ‘people of the book’ as simply part of ‘jahiliya.’
    What you have to remember is that this is a mirror game in which Islamist fundi’s put up their own simplistic interpretation of favorite Koranic verses against ‘kaffirs’ and the Christian fundi’s respond with their own equally mindless miming of ‘patriotic’ attitudes.

    Look at the same game in Israel where Hamas and the Israeli Right wingnuts are allied in opposing any reconciliation of the ‘ Palestine problem’.
    In the American South it’s called the alliance between ” the Baptists and the Bootleggers.” Neither wants liquor to be sold in a bar or cafe, so they are allied in voting for ‘dry’ counties.

    Peace’ has become such an empty slogan. The world is full of those for whom hatred is more important than any kind of conceivable reconciliation. Look at Ireland! The partisans of
    the militant ranks particularly include the testerone-fueled unemployable younger males, just as in Asian nations.

    But in America as in Pakistan, sadly, it’s just political advantage which is being sought. The one thing which American bigots have in common with the Islamists is that each seek a higher status and greater monetary income to be gained from their access to official status and sifarish.

  15. PMA

    Hameed (October 28, 2010 at 2:17 am):

    You will not find me calling you a moron, bigot or idiot. You are certainly non of that. You don’t even have to read my comments. Just skip it and move on. But now that you have chosen to sip my drivel and consume my bullshit and come to the rescue of an Indoo Bigot you need to go back and read what the man says. He has characterised the entire Muslim World in a most simplistic bigoted manner. He says: “Muslims treat non-Muslims badly”. Is that universal? Do Hindus of India not treat their non-Hindu population badly? I am sure your answer will be that yes they do. If so then why single out and group all Muslims of the world together as “bad people”. Isn’t that what the Christian Right in America and Hindu Right in India doing? Portraying Islam as evil religion and Muslims as bad people? If that is not bigotry then what is? There are bad people all over the world. They exist in every religion and in every community. Muslims do not have a lock on it. People like Amar must be discouraged from making broad generalizations and spreading hatred towards other people. I hope you also would join the effort.

  16. Gorki

    Ammar, PMA Sahib:

    It is a difficult time for many Muslims in America and elsewhere because their motives are suddenly suspected due to their identity but it is also a difficult times for many others who yearn for a kinder, gentler, nuanced and a reasonable world that seemed to have been within grasp till it was snatched away suddenly on 9/11.

    For this we have to thank not only Osama’s murderous Wahabists but also the parochial Christian rightist whose heroes are priests like Koran burning Terry Jones; because between the two of these extremely angry viewpoints the nuanced voices have all been snuffed out. A similar polarization is present elsewhere, including in the India Pakistan dialogue. In such an atmosphere any one advocating a reasoned approach, compromise or tolerance is dismissed as unrealistic or worse and angry rhetoric continues to fall on deaf ears of the other side.

    It is not surprising then that professional provocateurs like Zaid Hamid on one side and Michael Savage\Bill O Reilly etc. on the other use ever flimsy evidence to dehumanize the ‘other’ side and score points. What is surprising is that how many of the otherwise fair minded people have been affected by this virus and resort to similar tactics.

    How else can we explain the haste with which even reasonable sounding stoop to labels like ‘bigot’ and extremist for the other side and then start generalizing the epithet to an entire people? Such rhetoric is not easy to counter because each such claim is, due to ignorance or design, couched within a kernel of truth that is hard to ignore.

    Thus when Amar points to the Muslims expecting equal rights within Western countries that are not available to non Muslims in some Islamic countries, their stand indeed appears hypocritical at first instance.
    Similarly PMA Sahib pointing out that terrorism is not limited to Muslims alone is common knowledge yet this fact is conveniently ignored by those trying to thrust a quick verbal jab.

    Such point and counterpoint may provide a quick satisfaction to the proponents yet I must say that it is an effort completely wasted. No minds are changed by such tactics and no future terror attacks are likely to be thwarted in this way yet the angry dialogue continues to crowd out all space in the middle for the consensus makers.

    I believe something has to change and that change has to occur among this angry educated elite; because the more reasonable people; the ‘doves’, already understand this and the extremist provocateurs are unlikely to give up their own so far lucrative niches.

    This does not mean that one has to suddenly turn into a Gandhian pacifist but what is needed is more nuanced reasoning.

    For example, the non Muslims will first have to understand the issue and the dilemma of the Muslim identity and sub identity in the West. The difference between their own desire for equality and human values and the denial of the same to non Muslims by the autocratic, hereditary absolutist rulers of the Middle East will have to be appreciated. The culpability of our own leadership in supporting such undemocratic regimes without a word of reprimand will have to be taken into account.
    Also; the damage done to the faith of the moderate Muslims in the Western fairness due to the ongoing injustice to the Palestinians in part due to American support to Israel will also have to be considered.
    Once these issues are considered, I believe then a serious understanding can develop.
    For the Muslims OTOH who are ever ready to condemn the Indian treatment of minorities using a few well rehearsed catch phrases, they too will have to consider all that India has been able to accomplish and all that could have happened and yet has not taken place.

    Within reasonable limits, India has tried to provide each of its citizens an equality of opportunities, political representation and a protection before the law.
    In spite of serious missteps, India tries very hard to keep faith with the minorities when it comes to preserving their language, religion or culture. The Sikh rebels of yesterday form the govt. in Indian Punjab today and enjoy VVIP security provided by the Hindus in the CRP; the Kashmiri separatists can go to the heart of New Delhi to argue their cause even as a popularly elected govt. rules in Kashmir.
    The law may be slow but it is slowly grinding its way towards even popular politicians accused of serious hate crimes; may it be a Modi or an Advani of the BJP or a Sajjan Kumar of the congress.
    Agreed, India has had serious moral lapses; Ayodhya and Gujarat, Delhi riots and Khapp panchayats, yet the fact remains that the extreme elements are just that; a miniscule extreme minority in a sea of Indians who have been fed multiculturalism with the mother’s milk so much so that they cannot understand how anyone can claim with a straight face that ‘his’ religion is superior.

    So every non-Indian, Muslim or otherwise; must pause and think hard before he tries to draw a moral equivalence between an ‘Indoo bigot’ of ‘Samjhauta express\Gujarat’ etc. (who is considered a criminal by the court system of his own land) and the cruel, state sanctioned, and institutionalized discrimination of the Saudi inspired systems in some Islamic republics.

    Above all, serious writers and thinkers must lose words such as ‘Indoo’ and ‘boy’ from their vocabulary since such words invoke painful racist memories of our own cruel and shameful American past.

    Only then can a serious dialogue; and perhaps healing, can start to take place…..

    Regards.

  17. Chote Miyan

    Gorki,
    “the damage done to the faith of the moderate Muslims in the Western fairness due to the ongoing injustice to the Palestinians in part due to American support to Israel will also have to be considered.”

    How? and what damage? Why no outcry over Janjaweed?

  18. Probyn

    @ Gorki….

    Might I suggest Gorki San tries the post again. Only this time in Latin.

    Apparently English comprehension is not one of Chote Mians strong suits. Same is the case with the rest of the chaddi-wala gang here..

  19. amar

    to PMA

    Generalizations are a result of the dangerous times in which we live. Exceptions will be mentioned only when they really help in reducing the dangers. Non-muslims have no guarantee that moderate muslims will save them from the wrath of the islamic extremists and expansionist. On the contrary the non-muslim sees how muslim moderates (be it against their will) are often useful to the extremists. in fact there is more and more reason to believe that the muslim moderates too are part of a clever islamic strategy to fool the non-muslims about the long-term goals of islam. The muslim moderate remains suspect (even if he happens to be personally a good guy) because of the many dark spots and hidden meanings/intentions in the so-called holy book. The very concept of holy book and last revelation is frightening those who do not wish to slip down into absolutism-totalitarianism.

    May the moderates muslims (or whoever regards himself to be one) develop the finer intelligence to understand that, in stead of taking shelter under some victimhood complex and sweet-false promises.

    The moderate muslim has developed a convoluted mental apparatus for playing different roles on different theatrical stages on the sociopolitical scene. We do not wish to be fooled (anymore) by the self-deceivers.

  20. chote miyan

    Probyn,
    Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean he is a khaki chaddi wearing rascal. Keep your generalizations to your puny mind. You are just a shower away from the taliban, albeit of a different kind.

  21. Gorki

    @CM:

    Woh mera dost hai, saare jahaan ko hai maloom;
    Daghaa kaare woh kisi se to sharam aaye mujhe..

    (That he is my friend is known to all;
    if he cheats another, I can’t help feeling ashamed (for it)

    Dear CM, you wrote:

    How? and what damage? Why no outcry over Janjaweed?

    Let me try again. I am a proud American, by choice; and admire the Western values of public morality but can’t deny the injustice that has been meted out to various peoples by us.
    In the 19th century the US grabbed large chunks of Mexican territory and all but exterminated the American Indian population.
    In the 20th century its record has been mixed. When Nazi Germany tried to replicate the US policies of both the land grab and genocide, it put up its own blood and treasure to thwart it but then for various reasons has allowed its protégé; Israel a religious-fascist state, to carry to similar policies towards the Palestinian population.

    Specifically, the European Jews founded the modern nation of Israel in a land that was not theirs. They have systematically displaced the local people using a combination of violent and other means and now practice naked apartheid against them. While this is not the first instance in the world of such behavior, what makes this a special issue is that it has been facilitated at each step by the West, led by the US in a complete contradiction of its own stand on human rights, the rights of the native populations to their native places, the rights of nation states and several such rights enshrined in the UN documents that the West and the US itself drew up.

    While many other nations and empires in the past have behaved this way, what the US stance of the last 62 years has done is to make its own professed liberalism and universal values sound hollow. This hypocrisy is not lost on the world, especially the Muslims. The radicals among them see in this as a continuation of the crusades by other means and the liberals see this as insincere and hypocritical.

    In either case, it weakens the liberal intra-Muslim argument. To compound the error, the US due to first it’s cold war and now economic compulsions has chosen to ignore the openly discriminatory, unjust and out of date monarchy that is Saudi Arabia that for its own selfish survival continues to back the Wahabist form of extreme Islam.
    The US has been very critical of the human rights violations in the erstwhile Soviet Union, Korea, and even China but has kept very quiet on the anachronism that is the KSA.

    It is this twin policies of expediency, towards both Israel and the KSA that has kept the liberal Muslim opinion from resonating with their own masses. Otherwise, the Arab Muslims as a people are as capable and as wise as anyone else to see that they need to reform their culture and their religion.

    The shadow of this falls in our part of the World as well, where the US record has been equally shabby. It supported the extreme Taliban against the secular Afghan govt. to defeat the USSR but once that happened, it promptly abandoned them till it was attacked itself.

    Notice that in the outline above I in no way absolve the Pakistani institutions such its army in compounding the misery and the paranoia that is gripping its population today; I have only made a case for the average liberal Muslim and two things;

    1. The reason why the moderate, liberal reformist opinion is absent in the Islamic world today
    2. Why it is so hard for the liberals to trust the US and partner with it to bring the same values of enlightenment to their own peoples that the West (and even India) cherishes.

    It is because of such circumstances that I cannot help admire the undaunting courage of people like Rumi, YLH, Adnann, Tilsim, BC and so many others who understand the difference between Western ideals and actions of the Western states and want their people to adopt ideals even as they continue to be sabotaged at times by the Western leadership.

    I end my post with another couplet I love and I feel the liberal Muslims have every right to quote to the western leaders (and some others):

    “Khaatir se ya lehaaz say main maan to gaya,
    Jhoothi kaasam se aap ka imaan to gaya,
    Ulti shikayeten hui, ehsaan to gaya…”

    (I accepted your story out of respect or because of your request,
    You lost your faith by a false oath,
    yet you still hold a grudge, and forget to acknowledge any debt…)

    My apologies in advance for the crude translations; perhaps PMA sahib will take pity on my and post a better one.😉
    Regards.

  22. PMA

    Gorki (October 29, 2010 at 11:48 pm):

    That you speak for me
    Is a concern of mine;

  23. Probyn

    @ chote mian…

    Indeed your handle says it all…

    Gorki had to take the trouble to explain a most simple and obvious fact of how the world is run to you like one would to a child…and not a very bright one at that…

    and I’m supposed to have the puny mind? that’s rich!

    I might be a shower away from whomever but is is definitely you who is mistaking the Golden showers bestowed upon you by the chaddi gang…for Champagne…! cheers!

  24. Gorki

    Dear PMA Sahib:

    ‘That you speak for me
    Is a concern of mine’

    All I wrote was my own understanding of how a liberal Muslim has been let down by the Western leaders. At no place did I imply these feelings to your good self.

    Either I misunderstand or else I have been misunderstood; which one is it?

  25. PMA

    Gorki (October 29, 2010 at 11:48 pm):

    That you speak for me
    Is a concern of mine;

    Hypocrisy of the West weakens Western Liberal argument, not intra-Muslim argument. Intra-Muslim argument was never about the West. It has always been about ‘Islam vs. Islam’. Right now in the face of modern challenges, just like in the nineteenth century not too long ago, Islam is going through a state of introspection. And just like every other crisis in its history it will come out of this crisis stronger yet. As for Saudi monarchy or even rest of the Arab World; it is no source of Muslim moral, spiritual or intellectual strength. Islam’s strength and ability to set its course lies within itself. Furthermore let me add that by shamefully bringing in Pakistani Military into this discussion you have weakened your argument. Pakistan’s Military has no place in this discussion. And please do inform us about “the values of enlightenment that India cherishes.”

  26. Gorki

    Dear PMA Sahib:

    ‘And please do inform us about “the values of enlightenment that India cherishes….”

    Be happy to; please read below.

    Many an Indian has spilled blood for the sake of these sacred words.

    ”WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

    JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
    LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
    EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
    and to promote among them all
    FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

    IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

    Regards.

  27. Gorki

    ‘It has always been about ‘Islam vs. Islam’….’

    Understood. Perhaps I am mistaken, but then explain to me why is it that Osama bin Laden chose to murder some 3000 innocent of my countrymen and he remains a hero to millions of Muslims around the world?

  28. lecia

    so gorki let me get this straight. the usa stole land, committed genocide and supports oppressive regimes and israel …this is why there are muslim terrorist and why moderate/liberal muslims will do nothing to stop the muslim terrorist and this is also why arabs can not liberate themselves from their oppressive regime. oh and let’s not forget that the usa is just like nazi germany….and there is no other country in the world that has ever done any of these things only the usa is such a great satan and the jews of course. the “muslim world” is pure and innocent. no muslim country has ever invaded another country and stolen their land or committed genocide nor would they ever support an oppressive regime.

  29. AndroidGuy

    @Probyn, PMA and your ilk….thanks so much. I let out a guffaw every time I read your posts, its very entertaining. Keep at it, you guys are doing a great job extending my life in 5 minute increments.

    @Gorki, dont try so hard. Something rotten in the state of……..and we see examples here.

  30. Gorki

    Dear lecia:

    Allow me to ignore the tone of sarcasm in your post and only address the doubts that you expressed about my views. To better explain my words let me also say two things upfront:

    1. I am a proud American and while I don’t like wearing my patriotism on the sleeve, I believe that America is one of the two countries for which I would not mind making a personal sacrifice if it ever came to that.

    2. My comments are context specific and must be seen in the context of the article above in which the author has raised a specific issue of how the Americans seem to be oblivious of the Muslims viewpoint about the US and that they ‘in their usual ignorance’ subscribe to the views expressed by Bill O’Reilly and others that ‘although undefined “good Muslims” do exist, all Muslims must be considered potential soldiers in an Islamic war against America”
    It was exactly for this reason that I expressed my doubts about PMA Sahi’s ‘Its Islam versus Islam’ comment because it does not address the American question of ‘Why do they hate us so’.

    So having said that, let me reply to your doubts. You asked the following:

    1. ‘the usa stole land, committed genocide and supports oppressive regimes and israel…’

    The answer to this is an unfortunate yes. The US treatment of American Indians and land grab from Mexico is a matter of historical record. Its unquestioned support for Israel too is beyond any doubt.

    2. ‘…this is why there are muslim terrorist and why moderate/liberal muslims will do nothing to stop the muslim terrorist…’

    I would like to draw your attention to the recently released 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, conducted by Professor Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. Only 20% of the average Arabs polled in 6 countries had a positive opinion of the US. 88% said they were disappointed with the US policies of the previous year, (61% due to Israel and 27% due to Iraq) When asked what steps the US could take to change their opinion to a positive one, 54% said secure peace for Palestinians and 45% said withdraw from Iraq. You can read the rest of the poll, it can be googled easily. The moderate Muslims are not ‘doing nothing’ as the efforts of Akber Ahmed shows; only their words do not resonate with the average Muslims when they are so angry and disappointed with the US as in the above polls.

    3. ‘and this is also why arabs can not liberate themselves from their oppressive regime…’

    The US has undermined democratic impulses in the Arab world and supported the autocracies since the later remain dependant on its support and so are easy to manipulate. Thus is obvious when one compares the US opposition to the democratic victory of the Hamas in the territories with its support of the monarchy in KSA.

    3. ‘oh and let’s not forget that the usa is just like nazi germany….’

    How is what the US did to the American Indians different than what the Nazis proposed to do to the Slavs?

    4. ‘and there is no other country in the world that has ever done any of these things only the usa is such a great satan and the jews of course…’

    I never said that. This is what I wrote: ‘While many other nations and empires in the past have behaved this way, what the US stance of the last 62 years has done is to make its own professed liberalism and universal values sound hollow…’

    5. ‘the “muslim world” is pure and innocent. no muslim country has ever invaded another country and stolen their land or committed genocide nor would they ever support an oppressive regime..’

    I never said that either.
    Only this is not a good reason for us to do oppress another people today because there ancestors did it to another people.

    Remember, ‘an eye for an eye is not justice because it will eventually result in a blind world.

    Regards.

  31. Chote Miyan

    Sorry Gorki. I still don’t understand. I asked you as to why there is no outrage over the doings of Janjaweed? You merely read out to me the laundry list of failing of the US, which, no doubt, are many, but which superpower doesn’t have blood on its hands. Hammam mein sab nange hain. I have tried to understand about this curious selective outrage, but I must say I haven’t been able to. I am not going to get into the corrosive discussion about Israel and Middle East because from a long experience it’s a fruitless one, and I highly doubt if solving that problem to the satisfaction of every Muslim, liberal or otherwise, is going bring any relief. This selective angst has become a literary genre now. I would have much sympathy and understanding about this phenomenon had Muslims displayed a similar reaction when Saddam was gassing Kurds or when the fat Sheikhs of KSA indulge in their megalomaniac pursuits. I am sure if tomorrow US decides to be proactive about the regime change in Saudi Arabia and other such rascally regimes, we are going to hear the same foaming-at-mouth liberals swarm out of woodwork to denounce the policy of imperial US. We are seeing that in Afghanistan and we will hear the same arguments all over again. As you have asked in your post to PMA, what is our(hanoods or whatever) fault? And why no reaction to China’s brutal suppression of the Uighur rebels. We never hear anyone writing about that. Wonder why?

    I think we have heard enough the long tales of sufferings of Muslims all over the world. As for Israel and the legitimacy of its existence, unfortunately, heartless as it may seem to be, that is another way how some nations come into existence. We just have to accept it and move on.

    “Why it is so hard for the liberals to trust the US and partner with it to bring the same values of enlightenment to their own peoples that the West (and even India) cherishes. ”

    It’s because liberals in these countries belong to the super elite class who have little to zero touch with reality. The Shah of Iran was not kicked out because people were sick of his liberal beliefs; he was booted out because he was a grade A jerk. Unless these liberals get their hands dirty, I don’t see any reason to be optimist. It’s all very rosy to write wonderful pieces and hold forth on what is good for masses and such other things but it’s infinitely more useful to ask those same people what they want the most. It’s been 3 months since the flood happened. BBC carried a piece about the horrendous suffering of the poor people, whose only fault is to be governed by a set of rapscallions whose rascality knows no bounds, whose silent yet patient and dignified endurance would cause a whole population in the west to convulse with shame. And what are our liberal friends in Pakistan arguing about? Gorki Saab, let’s leave it at that. Hanooz Dilli door ast…

    The pinko liberal of the west also takes time off for community work. His liberalism is not just restricted to writing decorative pieces for the NYT.

  32. Perspective

    Gorki,

    Google for – Bhikhu Parekh Osama Gandhi – and you will be rewarded.

  33. Perspective

    Quoting from that imaginary dialog:

    “Dear Osama

    30th January 2004

    You advance the following propositions. First, Americans are embarked on an imperialist project to dominate the world. Second, Muslim societies should be reconstructed on the basis of the true principles of Islam. Third, this cannot be done without getting the Americans out of your societies and overthrowing their native collaborators. Fourth, only terrorist violence can achieve these goals.

    As for the first argument, you are wrong to generalise about Americans. Some groups there fit your description, others don’t. Many Americans are deeply troubled by and critical of what their government is doing in their name, and have protested against the recent war in Iraq. Some of those who support the present administration do so because they are fearful after the events of 9/11. Their belief that their country was invulnerable to foreign attack has been shattered, and they live in fear of future attacks. Bush reassures them that his global war on terrorism will give them the security they crave, so they go along with him. As long as you keep talking the way you do, you reinforce their paranoia and support for Bush’s policy. If you had talked the language of peace and linked up with the progressive forces in America, you would have had a better chance of success.

    As for your second argument, I could not disagree more. All past and present experience confirms my view that identifying religion with the state corrupts both. Religion has a legitimate place in public life and is an important source of people’s commitments and motivations. But that is wholly different from saying that the state should be based on, enforce, or be guided by religious principles. The state is based on coercion, religion on freedom, and the two simply cannot go together. In your case the situation is made worse by the fact that you take not an open, tolerant and dynamic view of religion, but a static, self-righteous and dogmatic one. This commits you to a tightly knit politico-religious party supervising all areas of individual and social life, the surest way to destroy religion, create a terrorist state, and turn human beings into soulless automata. Have you learned nothing from the disastrous experiences of Iran and your own “land of the two holy mosques,” as you call Saudi Arabia, both of which are beginning to appreciate the need to separate religion and state?

    Your third proposition is only partially true. Following our earlier discussion, I looked more closely at the history of US interference in the affairs of Muslim societies. I appreciate better your view that you can’t achieve significant changes in your society without ending US influence. However, removing them physically does not mean that you will be able to banish American values and views of life if your people remain enamoured of them. You can only fight ideas with ideas, and need a more clearly developed alternative. Furthermore, as long as your society remains deeply divided, unjust, and devoid of a strong sense of freedom and cohesion, it will remain too weak to resist external manipulation and domination. Terrorist attacks on outsiders or their domestic representatives may give you a febrile feeling of elation and satisfy your ego, but they achieve nothing lasting. You need to build a cadre of reformers and activists, work among the masses, open up spaces for action by judicious acts of protest, and create a broad-based movement with the power to reconstitute your society. Once your society develops a collective sense of identity and a strong spirit of independence, America would not be able to dominate it.

    Finally, you make a serious mistake in rejecting non-violence. Braving the brutality of America’s southern states, Martin Luther King used non-violence to achieve civil rights for black Americans and gave them a sense of pride and self-confidence. Iranians, too, successfully used it against the Shah. The more his troops killed innocent protestors, the more rapidly his regime dissolved, with even some of his troops deserting him. You say that my own countrymen used violence and that I sanctioned it. Some of my countrymen did resort to violence when provoked beyond endurance. Although I said that it was understandable, I continued to condemn it, fasted in a spirit of atonement and even apologised to the colonial rulers for it. To condone isolated acts of violence by desperate individuals is one thing; to make violence the central principle of struggle is totally different.

    You rightly say that martyrdom requires witness and that the role of the media is crucial to its success. Some sections of the media are biased and all too ready to oblige their governments; others are not. There is also no reason why you can’t start your own publications to present your views as I did and as Al-Jazeera has done. You should not exaggerate the power of the media in pluralistic societies. They cannot ignore non-violent protests altogether, for this would discredit them. Ordinary men and women know that the media are often biased, and make appropriate allowances for that. Had this not been the case, the scale of the opposition to the war on Iraq in a country like Britain would be inexplicable. I would go so far as to say that by exaggerating the power of the media, you fall into the trap set by your opponents. If your cause is just and is pursued in a peaceful and humane manner, it will command attention. My experience bears this out.

    Even if you do not believe in non-violence, you should know by now that your methods have done an incalculable harm to your people: you have discredited a great religion. Millions now instinctively associate Islam with violence and destruction. You have also deeply divided the umma, subjected your followers to torture and degradation, and rendered miserable the lives of many innocent diaspora Muslims. You have given the Bush administration an excuse to unleash extensive violence and pursue a project of global assertiveness. It is time you grew out of your infantile obsession with death and destruction, abandoned your messianic zeal, and showed a bit of humility and good sense. But my religion forbids me to give up on any human being, not even on you.

    Yours

    MK Gandhi”

  34. Probyn

    @AndroidGuy

    the fact that I have extended your sorry and ill bred existance by 5 minutes has pained me.

    However I do appreciate the heads up. I shall try and restrain myself in future for I would not want the world to suffer you any longer than it has to.

  35. Gorki

    @CM:
    ‘This selective angst has become a literary genre now. I would have much sympathy and understanding about this phenomenon had Muslims displayed a similar reaction when Saddam was gassing Kurds or when the fat Sheikhs of KSA indulge in their megalomaniac pursuits….’

    OK Now that I understand what you meant, I will try my best to explain what I have been trying to say.
    Perhaps your own words above hold the answer to your question.

    Liberal idealists around the world, from the Soviet era refusniks; to the Chinese student protestors in Tiananmen square; anti apartheid protestors in Soweto to the Cedar revolutionary Lebanese have looked upon America as some kind of a gold standard in terms of upholding human rights and human values.

    Even America’s enemies expect it to be better than others. In the last days of WWII the most heroic battles were not waged by the Germans to defend the Reich but to move as many soldiers and civilians from the East towards the West so that they could surrender to the Americans instead of the Soviets. The former Soviets are still detested in many places they held sway but the Vietnamese can’t have enough of the Americans today even though they lost millions to an American led war in their country.

    There is a reason for it; for the most part America is a nation like no other in history and ever since the American Revolution the Americans have spoken in the name of universal human values. Its declaration of Independence reads less like a national document and more like a charter for all humanity’s hopes and aspirations.

    The list of American moral failings I listed before must also include the hypocritical stand of its founding fathers on slavery but all these are an exception rather than a rule.

    For the most part, America has behaved far better than any other such powerful empire in history. It was magnanimous to defeated enemies of the WWII and raised them from ruins of a war of their making into powerful nations at par with itself within a single generation. It has been the first to provide humanitarian aid whenever and where ever it is needed. It is perhaps the only nation in history that attempted to ‘invade’ another nation not to pillage and to loot but to feed the starving population as it did during its ill fated ‘invasion’ of Somalia. Millions of people arrive here from all corners of the world, speaking different languages, worshipping different Gods and carrying many different kind of genes and yet are accepted at par with the bluest of the blue blooded Americans as far as the law and access to opportunities are concerned.

    Because of all these things people for the most part believe the Americans when they speak of ‘American values’ and have come to expect better from it and its leaders. So when you talk about Saddam or the Sudanese Janjaweed, they can’t be considered anywhere close to America in terms of human development and thus no one expects them to be any better. It is because America is so different in so many ways that when it behaves badly, the behavior stands out and the disappointment of the liberals is so much greater.

    An average Muslim though looks at the problem from a different viewpoint; that of a tribal with a siege mentality. Because liberal humanistic education is not wide spread and secularism is not a well developed concept in most Islamic societies, they instinctively cling on to their Islamic identity first and foremost (even above their respective national identities) and thus react defensively when ‘their side’ is ill treated by the ‘others.’ Moreover they remain suspicious of the Christian West has been their historic adversary for more than a millennia.

    This is the best I can do; it is not an attempt to rationalize or justify Muslim anger, only an attempt to explain it.
    Others, perhaps Vajra, Hayyer, Perspective or NC can explain it better than I; the Muslim viewpoint vis-a-vis US, as understood by the third party, the non-Muslims..…

    Regards

  36. amar

    lecia writes:
    “no muslim country has ever invaded another country and stolen their land or committed genocide nor would they ever support an oppressive regime.”

    This is called lying through the teeth. This is a result of the pro-islamic education system.

    PMA writes:
    “Islam is going through a state of introspection.”

    Is it (can it be) an introspection worth the name? The muslim is told that if he doubts islam then the devil will catch his soul. Anyone who teaches him to doubt islam is a devil’s agent. This is a trick perfected to keep him in eternal fear, ignorance and bondage.

    You bring god, devil, hell etc. in the game, then no genuine introspection is possible. How many muslims have the ability to get over the indoctrination of fear that they get injected with from early on?

  37. androidguy

    Probyn,

    Why dont you restrain yourself for a moment? Can’t you make a point without getting into whether I was illbred or not?

  38. amar

    What about the 1400-year old infrastructure of hate, slander and hatefilled suspicions and warnings against non-muslims in the “holy” book of the muslims? When will muslims write about that and discuss it OPENLY and PUBLICLY?

  39. Probyn

    @ androidguy…

    I probably can…but I’m all about the details…

  40. PMA

    Gorki (October 30, 2010 at 3:18 am):

    Gorki Sahab, these are beautiful words, both on paper and coming out of your fair mouth. Now let us focus the camera on the ground realities. Now what do you see? Alright. You are too much of a gentleman. I don’t mean to embarrass you. lets move on. Let us go to your other question:

    “why is it that Osama bin Laden chose to murder some 3000 innocent of my countrymen……[For those who don’t know Gorki Sahab is a naturalized Indian-American]……and he remains a hero to millions of Muslims around the world?”

    Sir, as you yourself have explained to some length, Arab and Muslim Street has a list of grievances against the West that West has never bothered to address. Oh yes Obama went to Cairo and gave a speech. But the reality is that so far there has been no dialog between the West and the Muslim World. The extremist within the Arab and the Muslim World has chosen terrorism to send its message across. According to Osama Inc. that is the only message West understands. Frustrated Arab and Muslim Street has responded to that and has made him its ‘hero’. The West on its part has responded violence with violence by killing thousands and thousands of individuals in Iraq and Afghanistan. The moderates on the other hand have not been able to gain any of West’s attention. That is where people like Akbar Ahmed come in. How much success the moderates will have. It is yet to be seen.

  41. PMA

    Gorki (October 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm):

    “An average Muslim though looks at the problem from a different viewpoint; that of a tribal with a siege mentality. Because liberal humanistic education is not wide spread and secularism is not a well developed concept in most Islamic societies, they instinctively cling on to their Islamic identity first and foremost (even above their respective national identities) and thus react defensively when ‘their side’ is ill treated by the ‘others.’ Moreover they remain suspicious of the Christian West has been their historic adversary for more than a millennia.”

    Gorki Sahab. Complex issues are perhaps beyond your comprehension. May be you should let ‘Others, like Vajra, Hayyer, Perspective or NC explain it better than yourself’.

  42. Prasad

    I think Gorki is a fine soule with excellent sense of explanation….he should continue irrespective. he has listeners….

  43. Prasad

    erratum //soul//

  44. PMA

    Prasad (October 31, 2010 at 12:03 am):

    Gorki Sahab as usual is having a ‘Gandhian Moment’. That ‘Superior Soul’ also knew what Muslims of India needed!

    That you speak for me
    Is a concern of mine;

  45. Gorki

    Dear PMA Sahib:

    ‘Gorki Sahab. Complex issues are perhaps beyond your comprehension. May be you should let ‘Others, like Vajra, Hayyer, Perspective or NC explain it better than yourself….’

    Very well.
    I am the first one to admit this but I am not alone. Many Americans can not comprehend these issues either and hence the anti-Muslim bias as mentioned in the above article.
    I tried to come up with an explanation from my limited understanding and information such as the poll I mentioned before but it seems you do not agree with me.

    Perhaps then you can answer the questions most often raised by non Muslims, starting with the one CM asked:

    Why is there outrage in Muslim countries against Israelis and not a similar outrage against atrocities committed by the Janjaweed?

    While you are at it, can you then also answer the following questions?

    1. Why are their double standards in the Muslim dealing with the non Muslims. Specifically take the issue of freedom of worship. The US already has thousands of Mosques while the KSA has few Churches. There is a huge outcry in favor of building a Mosque in New York to promote inter communal understanding yet there is not a whisper among the Muslims themselves calling for a Church as a center for inter communal understanding in Mecca?

    2. Why is there only a selective outrage against violence and genocide committed by non Muslims; for example why does the Muslim world choose to remain mostly quiet when the violence is Muslim on Muslim, for example the gassing of the Kurds by Iraq, the denial of a Kurdish right of self determination in Turkey

    3. Why are there protest marches for people like Aafia Siddique and not for the the thousands of similar prisoners all the Muslim world for example for the attackers of the Mecca mosque in 1979 who were tried secretly, convicted and publicly beheaded in the squares of the Saudi cities?

    4. Why is the ill treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib condemned while no such condemnation is forthcoming now that similar cases came out in the wiki leak documents?

    For the sake of an honest dialogue, please try to be as specific as possible. I will eagerly wait to learn from your answers.

    Thank you.

  46. Gorki

    ‘Gorki Sahab, these are beautiful words, both on paper and coming out of your fair mouth. Now let us focus the camera on the ground realities….’

    PMA Sahib, indeed there is still much ugliness in the ground realities but using this argument is like arguing whether a glass is half full or half empty.

    With due respect, I think you still don’t get it.

    You see, unlike most nations of the world India is not a nation on the basis of a single shared language; a faith; or a single culture. In the absence of these natural advantages, what keeps us glued together is a simple but shared faith in those words ‘beautiful’ words.

    Let me first give you a real life example of the ground realities.

    As I have written elsewhere before, the Khalistani Sikh uprising was put down by none other than the Punjab Police, also almost 80% Sikh itself. During the height of the uprising it was a vicious fight and many atrocities were committed on both sides. Sikh terrorists in an effort at ethnic cleansing of Punjab killed the Hindus randomly and without compunction.
    In retaliation the police officers too often resorted to extra judicial killings.

    There was one brave but extremely ruthless officer who eliminated many extremists and was awarded several medals for his bravery in that time.
    The killings he committed won the nation’s battle but were not all forgotten. A human rights group, (headed by a Hindu, Ram Narayan Kumar) diligently tracked many of the excesses of the officers and was instrumental in bringing at least some of the culprits including the Sikh officer in question to trial.

    The officer was arrested. He was incredulous and at first could not believe that he was being prosecuted like a common criminal for fighting a war ‘like a true soldier’ as he called it.
    The law however stood firm and his trial continued. At one court appearance he claimed he was fighting for the Indian flag.
    The judge dryly told him that it was fine but he was accused of dishonoring the same flag.
    Isolated, dishonored and under trial for murder of a ‘terrorist’ he chose to take his own life. Many who had been victims of terrorism were aghast and considered the officer’s death is a tragedy.

    Probably it was so, on one plane though on another, it was a stark validation of the principles for which our nation had fought that battle; a clear reminder that if we chose to sacrifice the constitution of our Republic as a ‘paper’ then there was not much else left worth fighting for.

    Thus the last 63 years have not been easy for our Republic and there are many other such instances of people having sacrificed much for that piece of ‘paper’.
    A sitting PM’s election was once debarred due to that piece of paper by an ordinary district court Judge and for the next 18 months almost the entire intelligentsia of the country endured prison rather than agree to ignore the ruling. In the end, the PM chose to go; the Constitution remained supreme.

    Even today several politicians and senior IPS police officers are in the net for the custodial killing of another known ‘criminal’ because of that piece of paper. The trial goes on.
    I choose to call that progress.

    Because of a faith in that piece of paper, Indians young and old, educated and illiterate, of all regions and religions, trudge off to vote once every few years and because of that today an Indian state with a population larger than Russia, is headed by a powerful leader in her own right who was till the other day was another low caste Dalit woman.
    I call that too progress.

    The words on that paper have meaning too.

    Take for example, secularism. Before the constitution was ratified there were those who vehemently argued to declare India a ‘Hindu nation’. Today even the extreme right leaning parties don’t talk of any other model than a secular one. If they have a grouse, it is that we are ‘pseudo-secular’ and not secular enough.
    That too is progress.

    We have no illusions that compared to mature democracies, like the US, we still need to do a lot more. Ayodhya, Gujarat, Delhi 1984 and other such painful episodes are national blots whose poison we need to wipe out from our collective memory yet there are ways we can teach other more mature societies. Just the other day Terri Jones threatened to burn the Koran in a 200 year old secular democracy. He was persuaded against it only at the last moment. In India this idiot would have been taken into custody and charged with a hate crime long before that.

    Last week China released a report on “national competitiveness” by the official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), China’s leading think-tank. It featured a detailed comparison of China’s and India’s respective advantages and was actually critical of India. The report ranked China 17th overall in terms of national competitiveness in 2008. India was ranked at 42, one spot below Bulgaria and ahead of Kazakhstan.
    Yet the editor of the report, Ni Pengfei, also pointed out that while “China’s overall national competitiveness is slightly stronger than us, India is far ahead of China in some areas.” For example, he wrote that “the rule of law, protection of vulnerable groups and the preservation of traditional culture were areas where China ranked lower than India”.
    I call that too a progress.

    At the end of the day, many things that we humans deem noble and sacred, worth fighting for and dying for, are nothing but pieces of paper.
    Some people choose issue fatwas to murder others for pieces of paper; others choose to fly planes into buildings because of the way they interpret their particular piece of paper.
    As for me, my loyalty to the Republic of India is based not on any one person or culture or language or faith. It is based solely on the fact that enough people profess a similar faith in that piece of paper, and for that, I call them my countrymen.

    Regards.

  47. lal

    brilliant gorki saheb, brilliant…

  48. Prasad

    PMA//That you speak for me
    Is a concern of mine;//

    no where I spoke for you or against you…Just listed out my opinion as Gorki comes across with very simple language and superbly logical. I hardly speak for Gandhi baiters as they no nothing then !!!

  49. amar

    PMA writes:

    “Arab and Muslim Street has a list of grievances against the West that West has never bothered to address.”

    Most of these grievances are fake or trumped up. The west and christians have far bigger grievances against the muslim world since 1400 years. The expansionist aggressions came first from the arabs/muslims (Syria, Jerusalem, North Africa, Iberia, South France, Anatolia etc.).

    “Oh yes Obama went to Cairo and gave a speech. But the reality is that so far there has been no dialog between the West and the Muslim World.”

    There is no one (of importance) who is capable of an honest dialogue in the muslim or arab world. You can’t (and don’t) name even one such.

    “The West on its part has responded violence with violence by killing thousands and thousands of individuals in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    Thank god you admit that the west’s violence is a reaction – and reactions can be (contrary to Newton’s law) worse than actions.

    “The moderates on the other hand have not been able to gain any of West’s attention. That is where people like Akbar Ahmed come in. How much success the moderates will have. It is yet to be seen.”

    The holy book of the muslims does not really support the moderates. So the west knows that it is a waste of time to talk with them (or about them). The persecution of the moderate muslims is largely by the muslims and the west knows that the moderates are just an occasional fig leaf.

  50. PMA

    Gorki (October 31, 2010 at 2:58 am):

    Gorki Sahab: I do not speak for the one and half billion Muslims of the world and certainly not for the the House of Saud. But I will try to answer your one point.

    There is no shortage of Muslim-on-Muslim violence through out the Islamic History. In fact as early as the first century of the Islamic History, three of the first four ‘Righteous Khalifas’ of The Prophet were murdered by the fellow Muslims. The entire family of The Prophet was killed by their own cousins. Throughout Islamic History Muslim kings have gone on war against each other. More recently Iraq waged a war against Iran. One Muslim community has been oppressed by an other. In my own Pakistan rich routinely abuse the poor. But although intra-Muslim violence, like all other cases of violence is a concern for the Muslims, it is that such cases never become a concern of the non-Muslims. Since there is no religious dimension to it, rightly or wrongly they are regarded by Muslims as well as by non-Muslims as intra-Muslim affair. On the other hand when a Muslim community or a Muslim nation is oppressed or attacked by a non-Muslim community or nation, due to the additional ‘religious dimension’ such cases take the shape of international or ‘extra-religious’ conflict.

    Let us look at the mirror case of the Untouchables, Shudras, Dalits and Dravidian Indians. In India for millennia they have lived the life of sub-humans. ‘Ayria Samaj’ considers them as monkeys and hence the ‘monkey god’ of the ‘Ram Lila’. That is violence on another level. But when Christian missionaries try to convert these low-caste Untouchable Hindus it becomes an Indian and Hindu concern. Why Pakistanis are concerned about the murders of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat and Ayuda and not about the murders of thousands of Sikhs in Punjab and Delhi? Why Pakistanis are concerned about the political rights of Kashmiris and not of the non-Muslim tribals of the Northeast? I hope you got the answer you are looking for.

  51. Prasad

    PMA//Why Pakistanis are concerned about the murders of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat and Ayuda and not about the murders of thousands of Sikhs in Punjab and Delhi?//

    In all fairness, I dont see it as any business of pakistanis. We are not for once concerned with what happens politically in SWAT or Baluchistan et al other than humanitarian requirements. Not sure why you should be bothered as Muslims in India are adequately equipped with dealing with their problems which are mostly internal in nature. For instance, Gujarat was MOB TO MOB reaction happened in the first place due to Godhra Train massacre followed by retaliatory irrational response overall…however the nation has moved miles beyond that….there are multiple measures built in the constitution to avoid this going forward. with every bitter experience, we have come to learn something new….

    Having said that, I agree you should be concerned with Kashmir since Pakistan as a state is involved with the issue and has played a genuine role in increasing the trauma of Kashmiris. You should therefore be concerned…We welcome it

  52. androidguy

    Gorki, that last post of yours was truly moving. Thanks!

  53. Probyn

    @ amar

    sniffing glue again?

  54. amar

    To probyn

    why don’t you let PMA respond?
    BTW, yours is a typical muslim response. Ridicule with abusive words or own idiocies. My analysis baffles you (since you have grown up eulogizing your own religion) and hence you can only sniff your own miff.

  55. Gorki

    Dear PMA Sahib.

    Thanks for the response.
    I want a serious exchange so that I can educate myself better. You are a well read scholar, and so a great resource; I consider what you say seriously even if I may not agree with it (especially if there is evidence to the contrary). Therefore kindly indulge me in that spirit if you can.

    You wrote:

    ‘Why Pakistanis are concerned about the murders of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat and Ayuda and not about the murders of thousands of Sikhs in Punjab and Delhi? Why Pakistanis are concerned about the political rights of Kashmiris and not of the non-Muslim tribals of the Northeast?

    Doesn’t the above validate this below (that I wrote earlier):

    “An average Muslim though looks at the problem from a different viewpoint; that of a tribal with a siege mentality…….
    “they instinctively cling on to their Islamic identity first and foremost (even above their respective national identities) and thus react defensively when ‘their side’ is ill treated by the ‘others….”

    What part of this then do you disagree with?

    Anyway, my question to you is in the context of the above article of why Americans have an anti Muslim bias today and conversely why a large majority of people in Muslim countries hate America.

    My views above were based on a recently released 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, which is produced each year in conjunction with Zogby International and carried out by Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. In my opinion it is not something that can be ignored by America.

    Key findings are as follows:

    1. 39% consider their primary identity as a Muslim, 25% as an Arab, only 32% as a citizen of their county and only 2% as a citizen of the World.

    2. 41% want the Govt. Of their countries to make desicions based on Islam and only 30% based on what is good for the country

    3. When they saw images of innocent Israelis dying, 59% said their feeling was a revenge for Palestinians and only 3% had empathy as the most important feeling

    4. When asked what steps US could take to improve its image with them 54% said peace for Palestine, 45% stop aid to Israel, only 7% wanted more aid or education activities. Only 13% were in favor of a more push for Democracy.

    5. The most popular leaders were not their own leadesr but Ergodan, Chavez, Ahmedinajad, Nasrallah, Assad and Osama Bin Laden in this poll.

    For someone trying to understand whether and why Muslims hate America, and reviews the results the unmistakable impression is that yes, indeed a large number of Muslims are anti America, the reason for this is the Arab Israeli conflict and that the ‘street’ is not with the moderates but sympathetic to the extreme views.

    Moreover, it seems the Muslims in the survey are more conscious of their Muslim identity first, and national identity second, and that democracy is not much of a desire among them yet.

    How then can one draw the inference that the current struggle is an Islam versus Islam struggle as you mentioned in the US context.
    Moreover why then are even non Arab Muslim American kids caught planning bombings in New York, or flying to obtain terror training in Pakistan or even trained Muslim army psychiatrists snap and start murdering brother officers?

    Please note that I am very concerned and sympathetic to the Muslim Americans’ dilemma and this is an attempt understand the source of their anguish, not a rush to judgment.

    Regards.

  56. Tilsim

    @ Probyn

    Welcome to the rank of the faithful!

  57. Probyn

    @Tilsim

    Hallelujah brother! Ha-lay-lujah!

    No wait….wrong religion! Crap!

  58. Tilsim

    It does n’t matter. Muslim = bad. Non-muslim = good. Since you are bad you must be Muslim!

  59. amar

    to Gorki and PMA

    Muslim solidarity with muslims is fake. Muslim “brothers” in areas that are still not under the control of islam are told to provoke the non-muslims so that real blood flows and the muslims can use this so-called martyrdom for increasing hatred and anger against non-muslims. That is an old trick.

    When the area then comes under the rule of islam then these same “brother” muslims are just the dirt worth. That is why a pakistani muslim is treated lowly in comparison to a muslim from a non-muslim area and white women converts to islam are given royal treatment. The muslim does not and cannot have the intelligence to realize this. His indoctrination takes care of that.

    Pakistani solidarity with Kashmiris is a complete fake. Hurting hindus and pleasing arabs/turks is the name of the game. May be the muslim kashmiri will get better treatment because of his lighter skin colour or rosy cheeks – but not because he is a muslim.

  60. Perspective

    Gorki: transpose the situation below described by Dr Ambedkar as a larger struggle of Muslims versus the world {comments interposed}

    What can that special reason be ? It seems to me that the reason for the absence of the spirit of change in the Indian Musalman is to be sought in the’ peculiar position he occupies in India. He is placed in a social environment which is predominantly Hindu. {Replace Hindu by Globalized Western} That Hindu environment is always silently but surely encroaching upon him. He feels that it is de-musalmanazing him. As a protection against this gradual weaning away he is led to insist on preserving everything that is Islamic without caring to examine whether it is helpful or harmful to his society.

    Secondly, the Muslims in India are placed in a political environment which is also predominantly Hindu. He feels that he will be suppressed and that political suppression will make the Muslims a depressed class. It is this consciousness that he has to save himself from being submerged by the Hindus socially and-politically, which to my mind is the primary cause why the Indian Muslims as compared with their fellows outside are backward in the matter of social reform. Their energies are directed to maintaining a constant struggle against the Hindus for seats and posts in which there is no time, no thought and no room for questions relating to social reform. And if there is any, it is all overweighed and suppressed by the desire, generated by pressure of communal tension, to close the ranks and offer a united front to the menace of the Hindus and Hinduism by maintaining their socio-religious unity at any cost. {Same with Muslim versus the world}

    The same is the explanation of the political stagnation in the Muslim community of India. Muslim politicians do not recognize secular categories of life as the basis of their politics because to them it means the weakening of the community in its fight against the Hindus. {against the values of the globalizing culture of the west}

    The poor Muslims will not join the poor Hindus to get justice from the rich. Muslim tenants will not join Hindu tenants to prevent the tyranny of the landlord. Muslim labourers will not join Hindu labourers in the fight of labour against capital. Why ? The answer is simple. The poor Muslim sees that if he joins in the fight of the poor against the rich, he may be fighting against a rich Muslim. The Muslim tenant feels that if he joins in the campaign against the landlord, he may have to fight against a Muslim landlord. A Muslim labourer feels that if he joins in the onslaught of labour against capital, he will be injuring a Muslim mill-owner. He is conscious that any injury to a rich Muslim, to a Muslim landlord or to a Muslim mill-owner, is a disservice to the Muslim community, for it is thereby weakened in its struggle against the Hindu community.

    How Muslim politics has become perverted is shown by the attitude of the Muslim leaders to the political reforms in the Indian States. The Muslims and their leaders carried on a great agitation for the introduction of representative government in the Hindu State of Kashmir. The same Muslims and their leaders are deadly opposed to the introduction of representative governments in other Muslim States. The reason for this strange attitude is quite simple. In all matters, the determining question with the Muslims is how it will affect the Muslims vis-a-vis the Hindus. If representative government can help the Muslims, they will demand it, and fight for it. In the State of Kashmir the ruler is a Hindu, but the majority of the subjects are Muslims. The Muslims fought for representative government in Kashmir, because representative government in Kashmir meant the transfer of power from a Hindu king to the Muslim masses. In other Muslim States, the ruler is a Muslim but the majority of his subjects are Hindus. In such States representative government means the transfer of power from a Muslim ruler to the Hindu masses, and that is why the Muslims support the introduction of representative government in one case and oppose it in the other. The dominating consideration with the Muslims is not democracy. The dominating consideration is how democracy with majority rule will affect the Muslims in their struggle against the Hindus. Will it strengthen them or will it weaken them ? If democracy weakens them, they will not have democracy. They will prefer the rotten state to continue in the Muslim States rather than weaken the Muslim ruler in his hold upon his Hindu subjects.

    The political and social stagnation in the Muslim community can be explained by one and only one reason. The Muslims think that the Hindus and Muslims must perpetually struggle; the Hindus to establish their dominance over the Muslims and the Muslims to establish their historical position as the ruling community—that in this struggle the strong will win, and to ensure strength they must suppress or put in cold storage everything which causes dissension in their ranks. {likewise versus the globalizing West}.

    If the Muslims in other countries have undertaken the task of reforming their society and the Muslims of India have refused to do so, it is because the former are free from communal and political clashes with rival communities, while the latter are not.

  61. Gorki

    Dear PMA Sahib
    Sorry to have missed mentioning this crucial finding of the poll mentioned above:

    6. 88% of those polled felt their biggest threat was Israel and 77% felt it was the US

    @ Lal and Android Guy.

    Thank you both for your kind comments.
    Indian nationhood is a work in progress and will be for a long time. Our preceding generation gave us a good start. Each one of us has to help build a structure on the foundation they laid and pass it on to the next generation.

    @Amar:

    I don’t have anything to say to you other than I find your anti Muslim tirades tiring and an insult to my country and to 110 million of my own countrymen who are Muslims.

  62. amar

    “If the Muslims in other countries have undertaken the task of reforming their society and the Muslims of India have refused to do so, it is because the former are free from communal and political clashes with rival communities, while the latter are not.”

    Here Ambedkar is now wrong. Even in muslim majority countries there is no movement towards social reform. Whether islamic fascists are 5% or 95% of the population – they will always determine the course of islam. There are analytic reasons for this and these reasons are now well-known.

    Muslims “free from communal and political clashes with rival communities” – where on the earth is that?

  63. amar

    to Gorki

    Indian-ness and muslim-ness are incompatible. Pretending otherwise has cost the hindus a lot. So no more pretensions please. Temporarily a muslim in India may show love for India and even anger towards Pakistan – but in the long run he has to take dictates in the interest of islamic expansionism and absolutism. Gandhi failed to comprehend this. When there is a conflict between majority and minority then there is no garantee that the majority is the guilty party and the minority the innocent party.

  64. Tilsim

    @ Gorki
    “For someone trying to understand whether and why Muslims hate America, and reviews the results the unmistakable impression is that yes, indeed a large number of Muslims are anti America, the reason for this is the Arab Israeli conflict and that the ‘street’ is not with the moderates but sympathetic to the extreme views.”

    I apologise if I am saying something that would in all probability be obvious to you but perhaps it may help others understand. Surveys are useful but as we all know they have limitations. Also, whilst they can help highlight the relative sizes of various opinions amongst a group, depending on the bias of the reader one can draw conclusions which may be firmer than the actual underlying reality or diversity of opinion. This is not to negate the fact that many muslims have become anti-American – for whatever reason. There is no reason to assume that it is doctrinally driven or a permanent thing.

    As for the question of identity, if you ask a ‘typical’ Muslim, how important his religion is, he will say very. If you see what he does, it may be quite a different thing. Most Muslims abide by the laws of the land that they live in – that is the reality. Muslims have allied with and even fought with non-Muslims against Muslims for a variety of motivations throughout history. Ethnic or tribal motivations are very strong and the current polemics post 9/11 do not give sufficient weight or importance to these – witness the succession of Bangladesh; witness Azad v Jinnah; there are countless other examples. Even here on PTH we witnessed that Muslims had different reactions to the Ground Zero or Koran Burning affairs. Trying to fathom Islam or Muslims as one monolithic thing is probably going to lead to superficial conclusions and help increase the misunderstandings which we so desparately need to narrow on all sides. I would ask are the Western nations one nation? Are the Africans one nation?

  65. Gorki

    @Perspective

    I sincerely admire the depth of your reading and carefully read your comments, (both said and unsaid ; -) ) .

    Muslims had a genuine concern about their identity in the years leading upto the Indian Independence and reflexly turned inwards. It is quite natural for a minority to do so if its identity is threatened.

    Independant India however has turned out to be a different country than what was once feared; we still have issues of identity based on language, region, caste and yes, also faith. However as I wrote before the constitution that was approved (Thanks in part to giants like BRA, JLN among others) is a very strong foundation for a nation where a genuine national identity is emerging even as other identities are respected.

    Muslims still lag as a group but there are reasons for optimism. They are doing well in certain states like Bengal and Kerala. Also they do not vote as a group or only for Muslim candidates and just like several other groups, vote strategically when needed. The rise of BSP and other non-congress non-BJP parties in the Hindi heartland is in part dependant on this phenomena.

    However, in this thread I don’t want to digress too much and want to stay focussed to issue of Muslim angst in the US context (and the anti Muslim bias) since this is an important issue for us here in the US today. homeland.

    Regards.

  66. Gorki

    Dear Tilsim;

    Agree with your comments, and want to reiterate your line below:

    ‘There is no reason to assume that it is doctrinally driven or a permanent thing…’

    I also want to add that the survey above is only one such, and limited to explore Arab Muslim attitude towards America. I find it useful to quote to those in the US who say that ‘they hate us for our freedoms…’

    The degree of ‘tribalistic’ (I use this word reluctantly for the want of a better alternative) identification with Palestine is not much different than the identification of other groups eg. the Slavs around the world with Serbians etc.

    The whole point to quote what I did was to have Americans understand the issue and not ignore it.

    Also I am interested in finding out why PMA Sahib feels it is an Islam vs. Islam issue and not a reaction to a sense of ‘seige’ that many think Muslims feel in the face of aggressive US policies in the pre and post 9/11 era.

    Regards.

  67. PMA

    Gorki (November 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm):

    Gorki Sahab: I wish you stop calling me a ‘scholar’. You embarrass me when you do that. I am a layman and a professional man like yourself. You have chosen to characterize Muslims, collectively, as a “tribe with siege mentality”. Where do you get that? Muslims are not a monolithic group nor all Muslims of the world think and act alike. Please stop looking at this vast and complex group of people based on your limited observations as one “tribe”. You are being very simplistic in your effort to understand and analyse Muslims. Muslims only take a common stand when it comes to a Muslim vs. non-Muslim conflicts and even then not always. Very often national interests supersede Muslim interests. Not too long ago Turks were pro-Israel and Arabs were pro-Greece. Nasser was a friend of India even when Kashmiri Muslims were being crushed under Indian Boots. When it comes to Muslim vs. Muslim conflict, they are as nationalistic as any other people. Also not all Americans hate Muslims and not all Muslims hate America. Please don’t let anything cloud your clear thinking mind. If you want to understand ‘Islam vs. West’, both in present and in the historical context, there are numerous sources available. Hope you avail that.

  68. no-communal

    @amar

    “Indian-ness and muslim-ness are incompatible. Pretending otherwise has cost the hindus a lot. So no more pretensions please. Temporarily a muslim in India may show love for India and even anger towards Pakistan – but in the long run he has to take dictates in the interest of islamic expansionism and absolutism. Gandhi failed to comprehend this.”

    How did you get these ideas? Personally I’ve had scores of Muslim friends. They were all simple, hardworking, aspirational people. The one who was more religiously inclined actually wanted to be a monk in the Ramakrishna Mission (we attended a residential missionary school).
    Look at the article by YLH on another thread. Look at the comments by many many Muslims here. Surely they are compatible anywhere in the world?

    To most, religion is a simple, personal, emotional sentiment. Even being an atheist, I wouldn’t take abuse of Hinduism for long. Why? Because I have the same simple, emotional, almost tribalistic attachment to it, which has nothing to do with its various dogma. Why is that hard to understand? And why should it preclude my compatibility with the US, a predominantly christian country?

  69. Perspective

    We can only speak in anecdotes or in generalizations – there is no other way to understand the world. We have to understand that there are myriads of exceptions to the generalizations, and no amount of anecdotes can prove a point.

    E.g., regarding attacks on Data Darbar, Baba Farid, etc., we could say “the overwhelming majority of interactions between the people at the shrines are peaceful, the few bombings are an aberration”. Or we could say, this is a new trend and exceedingly important to understand and combat.

    Which of them is it? Do attacks on these shrines rise to the level of generalizable – e.g., “TTP is running a campaign of violence against Sufi shrines”? Or is this merely a bunch of anecdotes illustrating nothing general? (i.e., TTP attacked A, TTP attacked B, a few more in a list and period).

    All I’m suggesting is that if Muslim populations feel under siege by the globalization (of primarily Western values – remember, al Qaeda and co. have figured out how to globalize their values, too), then the behavior noted by Gorki is explainable, just as Ambedkar explained the case of Indian Muslims.

  70. no-communal

    @Perspective

    Anecdotal accounts can be misleading. But so are generalizations. Specifically in the context of India, what Ambedkar said was more applicable in the pre-partition era. In today’s India, an average Muslim is aspirational, not fundamentalist. In the kabulcenter report on Deoband I posted a few days ago, even the Deobandi cleric admitted that he sent his sons to a state run school to get a secular education.

    Statements such as “in the long run a Muslim has to take dictates in the interest of islamic expansionism and absolutism…” are not only morally wrong, they are factually incorrect, and can be dangerous.

  71. Perspective

    @no-communal:

    I certainly hope you are right. But in Kerala, the party that had the hand of a lecturer of English cut off for alleged insult to the Prophet (the professor’s question paper had a story about Muhammad the fisherman) won in the local body elections.

  72. Gorki

    Dear PMA Sahib:

    I am sorry that I embarrassed you by pointing to your scholarship; your modesty sets you apart. I am all the more impressed but I promise I will do as you wish and not bring it up in the future.

    You have a point that generalizations can be deceptive, but then it works both ways; if you feel a person is a bigot feel free to say so but qualifying him as an ‘Indoo’ unnecessarily broadens the insult to a larger group of people some of whom may be equally allergic to bigots.

    Another minor point I want to clarify is that no one has even remotely implied that ‘all Muslims hate America or that all Americans hate Muslims;’ my notes, arguments (and the statistics I quoted) are specific enough on that point.

    In your post you wrote to me:

    ‘You have chosen to characterize Muslims, collectively, as a “tribe with siege mentality”. Where do you get that?’

    You then advised me to consult reference material to brush up on these complex issues.
    I actually happen to agree with you that complex issues can not be understood well unless one consults scholarly sources, preferably peer reviewed ones. That was one reason why I quoted the U of Maryland survey rather than a clipping from a newspaper or a magazine.

    In fact I consulted several similar sources before I started writing. One of them was the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences [AJISS].

    Interestingly enough, this is what one editorial writer in it had to say:

    “The best diagnosis of causes of (Muslim) radicalism in this collection comes from Graham E. Fuller.

    ‘The Muslim world, feeling itself under siege, and with its sensitivities heightened by its witness of the struggle of Muslims right across the global ummah, is not currently operating in an environment conducive to intellectual openness, or to liberal and reformist thought. The Muslim world is simply hunkered down in defensive and survivalist mode. Indeed, the forces of terrorism in the Muslim world must be brought to heel. But it will not happen unless we see a change in hegemonistic U.S. policies, U.S. explicit embrace of Israeli right-wing policies in the occupied West Bank, and linkage with American fundamentalist Christian attitudes.’

    I have never heard the problem better formulated…’

    The writer further went on to write about himself that:
    ‘I am not a moderate Muslim in the U.S. sense of “moderate”. Yet, at least on three issues I regard
    myself as a liberal Muslim. I am against the death penalty; I am in favor of gender equality; and I
    believe that ijtihad will become increasingly crucial as a solution to Islam’s doctrinal problems….’

    And further still that:

    “But those of us who see ourselves as liberal Muslims are greatly hampered by the external forces of Zionism, the American imperium and the global humiliation of Muslims from Kashmir to Chechnya. Once again Graham E. Fuller captures the fundamentals when he says the following:

    As long as conditions in the Muslim world remain radicalized – by terrorism, the sweeping U.S. military
    response, dictatorship across the region, and a sense of Islam under siege – only radical groups will
    flourish. Moderation and liberalization can only flourish in a quieter and freer environment where
    radical voices find limited response….”

    The article is written by a certain Ali A. Mazrui,
    Professor of Humanities, Institute of Global Cultural Studies, Binghamton University; State University of New York.

    The title of his paper was:

    LIBERAL ISLAM VERSUS MODERATE ISLAM: ELUSIVE MODERATION AND THE SIEGE MENTALITY
    (It can all be easily found by all those interested in the complete article)

    So you see, although I am flattered by the fact that you think that I came up with the term ‘Siege mentality’ of the Muslims all by myself, but the fact is that I am not so smart; as you can see I borrowed the term.

    In fact I am not even the second person to use the term; it has been used by a few others before.
    For example, a title of a well sought after book on a related topic is called:

    ‘Islam Under Siege’.

    Incidentally it is written by the current occupant of the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, at the American University in Washington D.C., and the First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis. He also happens to be a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and is considered “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC.

    His name is Akbar Ahmed.

    Regards.

  73. no-communal

    @Perspective

    Yes, that is true. But in West Bengal Jamiat Ulema e Hind candidates routinely have their election deposit forfeited. All national level Muslim leaders are with Congress. Some are even with the BJP.

    What Gorki Sb is alluding to is also a fact. There is a general feeling of Islam being under siege at the global level.

  74. Chote Miyan

    PMA,
    “‘Ayria Samaj’ considers them as monkeys and hence the ‘monkey god’ of the ‘Ram Lila’. ”

    After gems like that you shouldn’t worry about being addressed as a scholar. You have tried to answer the original queries by putting forth an analogy describing similar notions within Hindus, Christians, etc. That is not quite accurate. There is hardly any existence of pan-Hinduism; in fact, I doubt if there ever was, except in small pockets of limited influence. Hindus in the neighboring Bangladesh were routinely persecuted till very recently. It hardly made any news, except by some fringe groups.

    Though Ambedkar’s theory seems plausible, I am not quite sure how accurate that was, even for pre-partition era. If that is true, I guess there is some truth to what Bernard Lewis and his ilk have been saying for quite sometime.

    Since we are on this same topic, I would like to ask about this scenario, which I think Gorki also addressed, though not directly. I remember reading it somewhere.

    In the ’79 seize of Mecca, why was the US consulate in Pakistan attacked? I am not sure we can ascribe it to Zia’s influence.

  75. Chote Miyan

    Perspective,
    Kerala is a cause of concern, especially after the incident that you mentioned, though, hardly new. It’s the charm of notoriety, at least that’s what I hope it is, rather than a pointer to a long term trend. You may remember Varun Gandhi being elected after making despicable remarks and being booked for that offense.

    I, however, appreciate your efforts in quoting relevant sources.

  76. Chote Miyan

    NC,
    “In today’s India, an average Muslim is aspirational, not fundamentalist. ”

    I agree with you. In fact, after the HC judgment on the RJ dispute, when some senior religious leaders went to gather support for this long running grievance, a lot of younger members agreed that though the judgment was a tad unfair, but how about jobs, education, colleges, etc. Needless to say, the ultra secular lobby and the religious leaders have been sulking ever since. I hate to say this and I don’t mean any affront, but the experience of Pakistan with the religious ideologues has really scared some people back home. As usual, this is just an observation from my acquaintances, which though limited, come from a diverse sample size. In fact, they just shy away from any such discussion.

  77. Chote Miyan

    Tilsim,
    “I would ask are the Western nations one nation? Are the Africans one nation?”

    I wholeheartedly agree with the caveat that you have raised. That is why I have asked those questions. Though we don’t think of Western nations as one nations, we do allude to something called a Western Civilization. I just wonder whether there is corollary to that notion, or if the present age with rapid globalization and homogeneity would lead to something like that: not a monolithic block but multiple large blocks of ideas, or whatever you want to call it. Already, we have started speaking of politics back home in strictly western terms, and this has happened before my own eyes. I am not sure if you know this but a lot of Keralites say that the radicalization of Muslim youth there has been the result of people coming back from the Gulf. The oil has been the biggest culprit.

  78. Perspective

    Chote Miyan, the 1979 attack on the US consulate:

    “The cause of the crowd’s anger was a radio report by the Ayatollah Khomeini that Americans were behind the seizure of the Great Mosque in Mecca by a group of Muslim fundamentalist dissidents”

  79. amar

    Muslim anger towards USA is not because of palestine-israel conflict but because of the spin given to this conflict by the agents of arab and islamic imperialisms (the two go quite hand in hand). Palestinians’ ancestors were neither arabs nor muslims (unless of course you subscribe to the inane propaganda that Adam and Abraham were muslims).

    No-communal writes:
    “Personally I’ve had scores of Muslim friends. They were all simple, hardworking, aspirational people. The one who was more religiously inclined actually wanted to be a monk in the Ramakrishna Mission (we attended a residential missionary school).”

    Such words don’t refute my analysis that the long term goal of islam is to decimate non-muslims and reduce them to fall on their knees in front of “kuvvat ul islam” (=the might of islam, so the name of the mosque built near the kutub minar in Delhi. This mosque was built by destroying 28 hindu and jain temples, as proudly recorded by the muslims themselves).

    So long muslism don’t develop the intelligence and honesty to understand and admit that islam is a 7th century absolutist-finalist-totalitarian intrusion/dictate into/upon the 21st century, that islam contains severe contradictions and that they will be in the long run always resolved in favour of islamic imperialism and totalitarianism – all such personal friendships woith muslims are just self-deceit.

    Any fake friendship with deceivers and self-deceivers is bound to end up in disaster for both. First for the honest ones and then also for the dishonest ones.

    The genuine friend is the one who criticises – not the one who flatters.

    ylh is the greatest friend of India because he never flatters India.

  80. Perspective

    amar, this is from Ambedkar.

    “Swami Shradhanand relates a very curious incident which well illustrates this attitude. Writing in the Liberator 13[f.13] his recollections, he refers to this incident. He says :—

    ” Mr. Ranade was there. . . . to guide the Social Conference to which the title of ‘ National ‘ was for the first and last time given. It was from the beginning a Hindu Conference in all walks of life.

    The only Mahomedan delegate who joined the National Social Conference was a Mufti Saheb of Barreily.

    Well! The conference began when the resolution in favour of remarriage of child-widows was moved by a Hindu delegate and by me. Sanatanist Pandits opposed it. Then the Mufti asked permission to speak. The late Baijnath told Mufti Saheb that as the resolution concerned the Hindus only, he need not speak. At this the Mufti flared up.

    ” There was no loophole left for the President and Mufti Saheb was allowed to have his say. Mufti Saheb’s argument was that as Hindu Shastras did not allow remarriage, it was a sin to press for it.

    Again, when the resolution about the reconversion of those who had become Christians and Musalmans came up. Mufti Saheb urged that when a man abandoned the Hindu religion he ought not to be allowed to come back.””

    —–
    The point being that just as the Mufti Saheb thought he could tell Hindus what Hinduism entailed, you think that you can tell Muslims that Islam entails.

    If you say that some Muslims believe in the Islam you describe, I would not disagree. If you say that these are the loudest voices today, I would not entirely disagree (but note our own role in amplifying these voices by assuming that they are typical). Yet, there is a whole another world which you ignore. It is one of the most interesting questions of our time, what that world will choose.

  81. amar

    to perspective

    We are sick on this islamic victim-hood complex and falsification of the history narrative in favour of islam and muslims,
    we are sick of having to ask muslims for permission about what we may or may not do or feel or speak out.

    We are sick of muslims’ understanding that islam has the natural right to rule over everyone and that the islamic god is the one and only one.

    That whole another world that you talk about must first clarify how it intends to fight down islam’s monopoly attempts and totalitarian claims.

    “you think that you can tell Muslims that Islam entails.”

    NO. I merely describe (react) to what they actually do or impose. There is a huge industry of those trying to present islam in good colours.

  82. Perspective

    That whole another world that you talk about must first clarify how it intends to fight down islam’s monopoly attempts and totalitarian claims.

    That is what this blog is about, in some small part, I thought.

  83. Bciv

    That is what this blog is about, in some small part, I thought.

    this blog is mainly about takkya, don’t you know?

  84. Tilsim

    Dear Gorki

    Thank you for your valued comments. The sense of siege that you refer to is of course described by Muslims and non-Muslims. The US muslims have their own post 9/11 challenges which may be quite different to your average Pakistani farmer in Gujrat. The specific political disputes such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Palestine are factors that are commonly cited by many learned people but there may be greater day to day local contributory factors at the personal level that may be playing a greater role.

    In my view, we need to look at a couple of areas in particular. Firstly, the activity of political activists who use religion to gather power – in Pakistan, the Mullahs, are intimately tied to power acquisition. They are into the business of religion, not in the improvement of society nor the salvation of mankind (although they may use that slogan). In the 21st century, like in Egypt and Iran they are part of a very human struggle by middle and lower middle class people to garner a greater share of the resources and political rights as globalisation gathers pace. They thrive when there is weak societal and political leadership with a lack of grassroot appeal. They need an audience and canon fodder; latching onto international political grievances to creat a sense of siege helps them immensely and plays well to their constituency. This constituencydoes feel disenfranchised for valid reasons. In the past, the clerics played a rather limited role in an average Pakistani muslim person’s affairs. However a phenomenon of modernity and globalisation is that they have also become more sophisticated, well funded and organised. Their power has increased. Pakistani muslims despite this increase in power, vote for non-religious parties. Although it is also a fact that the non-religious parties have steadily shifted rightwards or are still figuring out how to effectively challenge these forces. Like political parties do, they will make a compromise here but then insist on a firm stance there.

    Secondly, the activity of non-Muslim political activists and opinion is also creating a sense of seige. Due to 9/11 and the response to it as well as the continued activities of Al Qaeda inc, all Muslims are suspects. Your name or appearence is sufficient excuse for racial profiling or more sinisterly not getting that prize job or denial into a choice school, into the armed forces, the civil service etc. Islam is being positioned as a cult or a political movement that is fundamentally corrupt and inimical to modernity and civilisation. I just read the comments on PTH and it’s ironic to note that very few comments are made by Muslims against non-Muslims but there is a constant barrage of commentary that puts Islam rather than Al Qaeda in the dock. It shows the strength of emotion and it shows the political challenge that Muslims face not only from the likes of Al Qaeda but the world at large. In that sense, it’s not surprising for Muslims to feel a sense of siege.

  85. Gorki

    Dear Tilsim:

    Thanks for your post. As usual, there are parts of your post that need to be reiterated.I would especially like to draw people’s attention to the following:

    ‘it’s ironic to note that very few comments are made by Muslims against non-Muslims but there is a constant barrage of commentary that puts Islam rather than Al Qaeda in the dock….’

    It is the same phenomena that is going on in the US, only magnified exponentially.
    Ironically it is this phenomena that some of us non Muslims here want to counter but so far have not developed good talking points, in part due to our own ignorance and also in part due to the fact that it is unpopular in today’s climate; any one of us who talks of understanding is shouted down by the red America (the one that Sarah Palin disingenuously called the ‘pro America part of America’).

    In such a climate, it hoped that at least our (Non Muslim American’s) intentions are not misunderstood.
    In the long run, we are all wayfarers together in this American journey of ours and it is in everybody’s interest in making our adopted home a better and more tolerant nation before we pass it off to our children.

    Regards.

  86. no-communal

    @amar/due

    “NO….There is a huge industry of those trying to present islam in good colours.”

    It’s the Muslims, Pakistani Muslims, who are washing their dirty laundry here wide open (cf. article on TH, and many others). Knowing fully well it may be abused by others, including us Indians.

    BTW, what do you think of Indresh Kumar?

  87. Tilsim

    @ Gorki

    I was talking on the weekend to a friend of mine, an ex Goldman banker who is an urbane Muslim and has lived the vast majority of his life in the UK, but was born in Pakistan and has not been back. He is now raising a private equity fund with some very blue chip names as limited partners. He related an incidenct that occurred on a business call with a significant New York based law firm acting on behalf of a potential funder. The law firm Partner whilst making introductions asked him where he was born. He was taken aback by the irrelevance and personal nature of the question. Being a polite individual, he answered it. He said that the law firm Partner, a lady, freaked out. She said: ” I gotta tell ya upfront, I have a problem with dealing with Pakistanis and their involvement in terrorism”.

    There are over a billion muslims around the world – this sort of attitude is not sustainable as part of globalisation. Nevertheless the walls are going up very fast. We will all be the worse for it unless the good people on all sides stand up and make themselves heard amongst all the cacophany and put the enemy clearly in it’s sight (and not more). I have a huge place in my heart for people such as yourselves who are trying to understand the situation, not rushing to judgement and actively standing down bigotry wherever it may arise, specially in the more educated and influential strata of society.

  88. amar

    to no-communal

    I do not justify hindu terror or fascism but for the sake of truth one must admit that it is a belated and rather weak and il-organized (typical hindu!) reaction to the successes of islamic fascism and imperialism of the past 1200 years (in the indian subcontinent). This explains Indresh Kumar etc. Hindu fascism and terrorism is confined to India and has no international ambitions. It can never achieve the clout (finance, weapons, sleeper cells, suicide killers etc) of islamic international terrorism and imperialimsm. In the hindu-muslim conflict in the subcontinent the hindu is the defender, the muslim the aggressor or the quisling of aggressors. This difference is crucial.

    As regards the washing of dirty linen by Pakistanis – not really. The real danger is in their religion from Arabia and its self-glorifying lies and arrogances. That dirty linen is never mentioned by them. What use is washing superficial dirt and ignoring the deeper real one?

  89. no-communal

    @amar

    You forget time and again that India is also home to 200 million Muslims. Yes, it’s a Hindu majority country, but we are not, and neither do we want to be, a Hindu religious nation. What we are today owes a very large part to our steadfastness to secularism in our governing principles. Otherwise nothing prevents us from degenerating into a chaotic and fundamentalist state that we are not today. In our case, it will not be Hindus killing Hindus; it will be Hindus killing Muslims and vice versa. Even setting aside all moral principles, do you seriously think absolutely any development is possible in such a climate of hatred and infighting? As bciv said earlier, in India secularism is pragmatism. I am glad we have been pragmatic for the past 63 years.

    You repeatedly speak of defending India from the Muslims. You regard Indian Muslims as “quislings of aggressors”. And yet, by all accounts Indian Muslims today are not very different from Indian Hindus. Yes, we worship different gods, but it ends there. By and large Indian Muslims have become subcontinental, or, for the lack of a better term, “Indianised”. This is detested by some in Pakistan, and was in fact used as an argument for its creation (cf. Ambedkar quoted by Perspective above). Indian Muslims have subconsciously imbibed the most basic tenet of all subcontinental faiths, that of living and letting live personal spiritual lives (“as many ways as there are opinions”, according to Ramakrishna). In fact they have also become more aspirational than spiritual. There are hardly any Indian Muslim going for scholarship in Islamic studies. There are now English medium madrassas opening up in West Bengal.

    There is a nondescript Peer Dargah near our old house in a mofussil town in West Bengal. While growing up not too long ago, we never knew the Dargah was only a Muslim holy place. The elders in the family offered a silent prayer with closed eyes each time they passed it by. During Durga Puja, the Muslim families who took care of the Dargah milled around with us near the Puja pandals. Who will benefit from destroying such friendships? India as a country surely will not.

    About defense of Koran by our friends here, isn’t it a normal spontaneous impulse of all to defend their near and dear? In another post you mentioned Gita. There’s a body of critical literature on Gita too. Some obscure western scholars have hinted that Gita motivates men to war, even against their own kin. What is our reaction? I have never seen anybody outrightly rejecting Gita. Instead, we talk of the setting, the context, the interpretations of Dharmyudh etc. How is it different from others defending Koran on much the same principles?

    It’s true Islam has been abused by too many extremists. For that, the world does need reinterpretations of a religion which was perhaps the most state of the art 1400 years ago. Many in the Islamic world are trying to do just that. Let’s hope they succeed.

  90. Tilsim

    @ No communal

    Thank you for a tremendous post. May you and your kind continue to prevail.

  91. Humanity

    @ No communal
    Tilsim wrote:
    “Thank you for a tremendous post. May you and your kind continue to prevail.”

    I second that!