Saturday, May 26, 2007

Londonistan on Fascist’s Map

Londonistan is a hotspot on the map of fascists. For the rest of us, it doesn’t exist. We know there is a place called London, the capital of Britain, where a fictional character called Sherlock Holmes solved complicated crimes; and it was also the headquarter of countless pompous imperialists who laid to waste countless lands inhabited by coloured peoples. But as for Londonistan, no Ma’am, I haven’t heard of such a place. Are you telling me it’s there? What? Melanie Philips’ Atlas. Christopher Hitchens’ Atlas, Ed. 2. I’ll have to check the library database for some fascists’ maps.

Hitchens’ article Londonistan Calling is illustrated by a picture of incensed Muslims threatening violence against those insulting Islam. What the picture leaves out (and for good reason) is 99.999999 percent of Muslims working in the office, buying grocery, playing with their children or talking to their spouses and saying salaam (peace) to their neighbours. Rather than reflect reality, the picture mirrors Hitchens’ hatred, prejudice, Islamophobia; and if we’re to record the tempo of his frustration, a deep-seated fascism. I don’t want to waste too much of my time rebuking this person who has such a disturbing tendency, not with my end-of-semester essays, but I’ll say ‘hi!’ to some of his venomous, at times subtle, rot.

Returning to the old place after a long absence, I found that it was the scent of Algeria that now predominated along the main thoroughfare of Blackstock Road. This had had a good effect on the quality of the coffee and the spiciness of the grocery stores. But it felt odd, under the gray skies of London, to see women wearing the veil, and even swathed in the chador or the all-enveloping burka. Many of these Algerians, Bangladeshis, and others are also refugees from conflict in their own country. Indeed, they have often been the losers in battles against Middle Eastern and Asian regimes which they regard as insufficiently Islamic. Quite unlike the Irish and the Cypriots, they bring these far-off quarrels along with them. And they also bring a religion which is not ashamed to speak of conquest and violence.

With a guy who imbibes great quantities of alcohol (this is not an ad hominem attack on Hitchens but a fact), the scent of Algeria (how exotic) may indeed be disturbing. And what’s Hitchens hassle if the women are wearing the “all-enveloping burka”? On one hand you have the Taliban and Washington’s chums the Afghan warlords who force women to wear the burka and on the other hand you have so-called feminists like Hitchens who find it disturbing that women in London are wearing the veil but not disturbing that he supported the bombing of women in Iraq, bombs which tore through the veils of women and laid everything bare, the skin and bones. Drink your fill, Hitchens, your liberation is appreciated. Your notion that Islam should be ashamed for your imagined violence and conquest is indeed shameful, but on your part. The land on which you currently write your Cold War thesis is the United States. You and your friends in Washington brought your ideas of conquest and violence from Europe. The Native Americans, who are and always will be the original Americans no matter how many more you massacre at South Dakota, didn’t dock a single canoe on Ferdinand’s ugly foot.

In much of his fear-mongering article, Hitchens, having nothing standard to say, raves about “British jihadists”, and with no real substance overplays the role of a few infamous British Muslims, trying to extend the Islamophobic guarantee to the rest of the British Muslim population. But he fails miserably as usual. Remembering his deceitful manoeuvre to link Iraq’s WMD myth to Niger still gives me the odd chuckle.

Another atrocious personal characteristic of Hitchens is his fear of "loneliness" in his hatred and Islamophobia. This is especially striking in his fascination with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was used (for her hatred) and kicked out of the Netherlands; and is now employed at an American think-tank, and you can bet she is rubbishing Muslim immigrants and receiving the almighty dollar. This fascination can be best witnessed with people having Muslim names but Western-oriented like Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi and Monica Ali.

Hitchens is also unable to make powerful conclusions, though he seems a rather gifted fear-monger:

I find myself haunted by a challenge that was offered on the BBC by a Muslim activist named Anjem Choudary: a man who has praised the 9/11 murders as "magnificent" and proclaimed that "Britain belongs to Allah." When asked if he might prefer to move to a country which practices Shari'a, he replied: "Who says you own Britain anyway?" A question that will have to be answered one way or another.

On one hand, Hitchens attempts to paint voices which are absurd and not reflective of the wider Muslim community as absurd and strange; and on the other hand, he extends those voices and pulls them over the face of an entire community, trapping everyone inside. And if Hitchens and like-minded people are permitted to air their fascism as if it’s conventional thought, Europe is headed into the direction of another…a word that doesn’t dare to speak its name. It may seem too far-fetched. But when you start seeing one voice as representative of all and make generally bigoted and crass statements against a religion and there are more of you, and there might be even more, baying for action against immigrants and those with less pale skin colour or a different system of belief to yourself, you are promoting a fascistic climate.

And history has shown the price people pay for fascism. If you don’t want immigrants, it’s up to the people. The only reason why people (and birds) immigrate is to live a better life. But as the Daniel Pipes quotation in If Birds Could Talk to Daniel Pipes has shown, human beings are treated far worse, as if there is no avian flu but immigrant flu. Of course, they’ll protest if you bomb their home country. It was true when Christians immigrated to Istanbul under the Ottoman Turks and it is true now for the First World countries. But don’t make laws which in any way harm the image or residence of those that are part of your country. The only way Muslim terrorism can be prevented on Western shores is if there’s no Jewish and Christian terrorism on Muslim shores. It is an uncomfortable historical truth. Common sense dictates that you don’t bomb another country to prevent another terrorist atrocity on your country, though your purpose may be in money proceeds. Hitchens can’t prevent terrorism by supporting terrorism himself, let alone the information on Islam he acquired from Jihad Watch or something.

Intro. to "Londonistan on Fascist’s Map": Rushdie, Hitchens and Rich Fascists

Take note: it is vogue for fascists to pronounce entire communities as "fascists". This fits into the "war on terror" propaganda. One of these evil fascists who is so guzzled with the calumnious hate phrase "fascism with an Islamic face" and fantasises about bullets penetrating through copies of the Qur’an before tearing through the flesh and bones of Iraqi resistance fighters is a man, rather say a tosspot, by the name of Christopher Hitchens. An ex-Socialist (based in London) turned neo-colonialist (based in the United States), Hitchens has spared no effort since 1989 to demonise Muslims and Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). First wielding the European battleaxe, against those damn Muslims who dare protest against Salman Rushdie, along with other “enlightened bourgeois intellectuals” like Fay Weldon etc., Hitchens always evoked a totalitarian mood while claiming to be against totalitarian himself. Angry Arab who more sincerely protested against the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa has referred to Hitchens as a "great poseur". For today, Islamophobia Watcher wishes to take Hitchens up on a hate-mongering, fear-mongering article he wrote for the overrated but moneyed Vanity Fair recently.

[Before I proceed, I’d like to state that the Rushdie affair is vastly seized upon by Islamophobes of all stripes and colours, not least by Salman Rushdie himself who is himself an Islamophobe though he may describe me as “philistine, reductionist” for levelling this accusation, all the while Rushdie sitting smug on his couch with a ham burger and frothing about some lady in a veil who is certainly more educated than him. What’s his fetish with veil and anti-Islamic gobbledygook, I think I do understand. It’s an illness. Islamophobia is indeed an illness, a boil on the conscience. For some it’s a concept to make money, for some it’s a Cold War DNA and for some it’s like supremacist politics. For fascists, it’s some of each].

Monday, May 21, 2007

If Birds Could Talk to Daniel Pipes

"....I walked on the beach and saw hundreds of tree swallows flying west along the edge of Long Island Sound, a migration no less impressive than that of broad-winged hawks. If I had stayed awhile, I probably would have counted a thousand swallows, but I could not resist foraging into a rank growth of shrubs and weeds above the beach." (Robert Winkler in National Geographic News, September 27, 2002)

"Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene...All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most." (Daniel Pipes in National Review, November 19, 1990)

The Stork by Ghalib ibn Ribah al-Hajjam

She is an immigrant from other lands.
When she stretches out her ebony wings
shows her ivory body
opens her sandalwood beak
and laughs with great guffaws
it's a sign of good weather.

(Source: Poems of Arab Andalusia, Translated by Cola Franzen from the Spanish versions of Emilio Garcia Gomez)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

'Sufism' and US Foreign Policy (Part II) - An Examination of the 2004 Nixon Report -

You can read Part I on Austrolabe (I didn't hear from them about the following, so I'm publishing it here after some editing).

Deconstruction of Poetry, Programme Objectives and Introducing ‘Neo-Sufism’

[In this part, you’ll find that I’ve corroborated the first part and basically looked at very broad themes. It is in the final section i.e. Part III of this series that I have introduced new ideas and themes that mayn’t directly relate to the report, because all along my effort has been to humanize the dehumanized in this report as I initially stated. This of course is because of the underlying argument of the report itself, which casts aside “Wahhabism” as a scourge not just to the world; but given the diplomatic, conceited slant of its address to an American foreign policy audience, “the West”].

This is a follow up to my last entry in which I basically discussed the fanatical standardisation of Islam by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani through his private Sufi viewpoint as distinct from the understanding of Sufis in general, and where all other roads or sects would be monitored, and if need be, their followers designated as terrorists. Before I proceed, let me once again affirm that my critique of the 2004 Nixon Report titled Understanding Sufism and its Potential Role in US Policy (edited by Zeyno Baran) isn’t a slam on Sufism. My objective is merely to talk about it in terms of political implications. I remember I did touch upon the poetry and philosophy aspect of Rumi and Ibn Arabi, but this was in response to Bernard Lewis’s obvious extolment of the tolerance in the writings of such aesthetic, spiritually sensitive Muslim thinkers which he played against ‘standard Islamic texts’ i.e. the Qur’an and the Hadith. I personally have a lot of respect for Sufi poets, though I have the right to disagree with some of the things they said or did. Let me mention here that according to Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, Al-Hallaj is too extreme. But his personal pact with neocons is not extreme and they’re made merry with anti-orthodox Hellenized philosophy that he doesn’t mind quoting, which casts great doubt on his supposed faith. Let alone the fact that the particular quote by Rumi may well have been inauthentic as Ibrahim Gamard shows in this brilliant article. It is interesting that none of the Muslims who shamelessly participated in this phoney albeit curious conference had the mettle to confront Lewis. For every Muslim of whichever school of thought or sect, the Qur’an and the Hadith serve as the texts. And it is absolutely fallacious to contend that the writings of poets and thinkers are of greater merit for co-existence between peoples of different religions and races. While the writings of poets may have that charm and some lovely rhymes and some of their authors may have been good souls, the Word of Allah is far superior, it can’t even be compared. Poets mostly cling to wings of imagination and as you may know, imagination is a moody enterprise. All chapters in the Qur’an proclaim mercy and compassion of Allah right in the beginning and Allah means everything in His speech. Mevlana Rumi himself wrote in taut reflection:

I am the servant of the Qur’an as long as I have life.
I am the dust on the path of Muhammad, the Chosen one.
If anyone quotes anything except this from my sayings,
I am quit of him and outraged by these words.

[man banda-yé qur’an-am, agar jan dar-am
man khak-é rah-é muHammad-e mukhtar-am
gar naql kon-ad joz in, kas az goftar-am
bezar-am az-o, w-az-in sokhan bezar-am]

-- Rumi’s Quatrain no. 1173, translated by Ibrahim Gamard and Ravan Farhadi (in “The Quatrains of Rumi,” an unpublished manuscript)

Shakykh Hisham Kabbani would never quote this. I mean, you would need something anti-orthodox to make everyone happy in the conference. Ah, and what a conference! The objectives of which I may quote as drawn out right in the beginning of the document:

Major programs of the Nixon Center include the Chinese Studies Program, Immigration and National Security Forum, International Security and Energy Program, National Security Program, Regional Strategic Program, and U.S.–Russian Relations Program. Topics addressed by the Center’s programs range from U.S. relations with China and Russia to energy geopolitics in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Basin and European Security Issues. The Center is supported by the Nixon Center Library and Birthplace Foundation endowment as well as by foundation, corporate, and individual donors.

Did you spot the word ‘peace’ or ‘love’ or any of those fuzzy words so sanctimoniously used against Islam throughout this lecture, Islam made sapless by describing it and calling it ‘Wahhabism’ and bashing ‘Wahhabism’? Pausing here, let me mention that I’m no fan of fundamentalism or the Jahiliyah culture as exhibited by the Taliban, or Afghan warlords (currently supported by the Bush administration) of whom Ismail Khan has “religious police” to go after women or any extreme, but the ideas expressed in this report are absolutely rash. By the by, these are cultural and contrary to the principles of Democrats and Republicans (and other similar things) on CNN, not inspired by “Wahhabism”, let alone the oft-repeated calumny of labelling any depraved Muslim a “Wahhabi” and painting the entire group as backward, literal and unimaginative (you just have to peruse through some of the Salafi blogs to know that it is untrue and bogus); moreover, I doubt the Taliban and their fellow warlord schmucks are even aware of women’s rights and hygiene issues as prescribed in Islam. Fundamentalism and ignorance and brutality in patriarchal (too light a word) cultures can be handled without snubbing any government process that engages with ordinary members of another community. What has chiefly upset me is this gross slander against mainstream Muslims that they are prone to terrorism – that’s just about how Shaykh Hisham Kabbani brands others. And as it has Bernard Lewis’s peaceful, darling seal on it, I must confess it must be a great forum for co-existence and tolerance. I mean, when the pioneer of the so-called clash of civilizations talks about tolerance and acceptance and the lack thereof in “standard texts”, it must be true I suppose. There’s a phrase in an earlier paragraph “American national interests” which I didn’t quote as it’s pretty obvious just like everything else in it. You don’t need to be a critic to see right through it and decipher that what seems like appendages are really bloodsucking leeches. I’ll now insha’Allah briefly look at some of the speakers.

Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti, Department of Religious Studies, University of Oregon spoke well on the advent of Sufism that will definitely be accepted as fair speech by Sufis (especially on the spread of Islam in which Sufi Muslims played a leading role as you may know), and personally I’ve tended to agree with the anthropological explanation of it which is slightly hinted at by Dr. Gianotti as its one possible course. The reason why I said this is because the Sufi Muslim Council is trying to extend it socially even further, but not merely socially but rather politically even if it leads to libellous slander and state crimes. This is when it gets interesting because all the poetry and philosophy becomes valueless and a group takes advantage of the times and politics, against aesthetics previously chanted and held dear, never mind the teachings in the Qur’an.

Dr. Zeki Saritoprak, Department of Religious Studies, John Carroll University takes the baton from Dr. Gianotti and resumes a history tour, punctuated with interesting insights, and close to the end of his speech he throws up a very interesting term “neo-Sufism”. I think this explanation is the lace which ties up this conference and the motives of the Sufi Muslim Council. Dr. Saritoprak notes that “neo-Sufism” will not merely concentrate on spiritual matters but advance to [wait for it] “social, political and economic realms.”

To me this was very interesting. Dr. Saritoprak has described, in my view, the policy and goals of the Sufi Muslim Council. Allow me to mention here that the Sufi Muslim Council is not a money-grubbing or contract-whacking organisation like say in the vein of Irshad Manji or one of those Muslims for Imperialism and Bombing Iraq and Anti-Terrorism mountebanks but ideologically sufficient to lobby in foreign policy institutes against those it deems different sorts of Muslims. This as we know is being picked on by Western governments leery of mainstream Muslims, and just the shooting glamour of the “spiritual organ of Islam”. Let us leave aside the fact that Muslim Sufis or students of the science of tassawuf, who have heard or read of it, are furious at the antics of this lobby group, which is the antithesis of what they practise. Let us leave aside the fact that those damn “Wahhabis” and as Laurie Silver might say “whacky Saudis” et al are accused of being prone to terrorism in the eyes and on the tongue (it was heard by everyone) of Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, a die-hard sectarian. An illustration of this is his support for the repressive government of Uzbekistan that is apparently so concerned by the legal activism of orthodox Muslim dissidents that it thinks it wise to give them a shove into scalding water whenever it deems fit (and now that those orthodox Muslims are being tortured, let Orpheus play his harp and the bloodthirsty leader Islam Karimov and some of his sinister generals go around the circle and chant that wonderful mantra “How to Deal With the Islamist Threat, See Ya Daniel Pipes”). I think this venturing of the Sufi Muslim Council into what Dr. Saritoprak calls “neo-Sufism” (though he doesn’t point the finger at those in the conference; I have simply linked the two in a figment of irony) is a very important political landscape for Muslims, mostly around the Atlantic and which may well spread overseas. The only way in my view to resist this is for Muslims to collectively speak out, as one body. We should boycott all Muslim lobbying groups in sync with the neocons, including the Saudi dictatorship, which are taking pot-shots at those who don’t have the privilege of public speech like them. Running around politicians, who are worried about Muslim votes while making war, may get them seats and podiums in conferences, but will it get them the trust of those they aim to represent or the respect of those they aim to tame for the crime of not being them?

I don’t think so.

White Racism

Across the world, one formulation dominates the opinion of peoples: race. This social construction echoes in the newspapers we read, films we watch and in other forms of medium. When was the last time you saw a native Australian on the channel 7 evening news? The native Australian becomes the “Aborigine” or the Other. White man lands on a land. It becomes the "New World". Columbus lands on a land and he thinks it is India. The indigenous peoples become “Indians”. The original inhabitants become the Other, the lower class or the second class. Mexicans have more right to California than the European settlers. The fact that Mexicans are treated like second-class citizens fits into my theory. Hernan Cortez, a vile rapist and mass murder, succeeds Columbus in the tradition of naming lands and rivers and even the trusting, simple-minded peoples who live peacefully in those lands. Francisco Pizarro walks across the shore. On some shore in Cuba now stands Guantanamo Bay, a glaring modern day symbol of racism. Connected to the concept of race is Bernard Lewis’s phrase “Judeo-Christian heritage” but with race predominating as it is illustrated from the current Pope’s saying that Eastern and other Christians must curtsey to Plato’s (or was it Aristotle?) concept of ‘logos’.

“Iraqis hate each other”, “Iraqis are killing each other”, “they only know the tribe”, “they like to blow each other up”, “Arabs haven’t built anything material” etc etc. are regular phrases we hear. This is known as ‘residual racism’. This discourse is borrowed from a feeling of superiority that ‘we are in the free world’ while they are miserable lives. We went there to liberate these peoples, coloured peoples, with our principles and all. We weren’t received with flowers but you bet these hajjis love to see us pacing their streets and shooting anyone we feel like. Prove to me that our well-mannered home-grown soldiers are raping Iraqi women and girls? Yes, they are allowed to rape our home-grown female soldiers. We are free people after all, and our female soldiers have the right to be raped. Why do you hide your women under those bed sheets? Why do you like to blow yourselves up? We’ll leave when you stop blowing yourselves up? Why do you hate the Jews? Any good person will be against the racist Israeli apartheid system and so speaks Jewish humanity against the policies of Israel. Even Jewish humanity is not given consideration.

To learn about Muslim opinion, blogs are good place to start. There are millions of blogs where Muslims record their experiences. Yes, they are free. Yes, they have the ability to think. No, they aren’t blowing themselves up. Yes, they have the right to disagree with you. Yes, they defend humanity, all humanity, not just theirs.