He Said, She Said…The Zionist Said

A very new blogger, who calls himself “A Shackled Traveller” writes on conspiracy theories-

It pains me to write this article, but I feel I must. Conspiracy theories, yes, we’ve heard them all, some of us attribute credibility to them and others ridicule it. Conspiracy theories are, without a doubt, rife within the Muslim ummah, the western Muslims are not exempt from this trend. I hardly hear Muslim’s rejecting conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, they’re enforcing them, and referencing them during conversations, frankly someone needs point this out. They need a slap in the face, I’m definitely not condoning violence, but a slight tap to bring them back to reality, will do.

The majority of people have gotten bitten by the conspiracy bug, it has infested their brain, and introduced it’s progeny to their new comfortable nest i.e. the Muslim mind. Whenever you prove one is wrong, somehow, you’re hit with an even more absurd one. I remember not too long ago at a gathering, laughter was in the air, no audible voice could be discerned, for all the tepid fun we were having. Then the ambiance turned sour, someone mentioned from a “credible” source that 9/11 was a set up. I don’t want to repeat the story, in case some might believe it to be true, but unless you live under a rock, your ears have been insulted by this one. Unfortunately, once in a while, personally is one to many, I’m left flabbergasted, by such comments.

“My Last Strange Post”

Shaz

Back in 2003, you may remember a little something termed shock and awe, I was at home and somewhat mesmerized by the images on the news, I watched it day and night, basically rendering myself almost completely non-functional. I had never in my life seen anything that terrifying. After a while, I finally looked away. Subsequently, I realized that I had a problem handling “sadness”. I really could not handle it. I banned myself from anything sad – news, movies, stories – whatever it was, as long as it was sad, I avoided it like the plague.

New Year in Gaza: “Our fireworks are the Israeli missiles”

“Look outside, F-16 jet fighters are smiling for you, missiles are dancing for you, zannana [the Palestinian name for pilotless drones] are singing for you. I requested them all to wish you a happy new year.” That was the text message received by Fathi Tobal, a Gaza City resident, on his mobile phone today. Tobal added ironically, “While other people around the world celebrate, it seems the Israeli air force is trying to save us the cost of fireworks.”

The Electronic Intifada correspondent Rami Almeghari reports on New Year’s Eve in the besieged Gaza Strip.

McKinney to Obama: “Say Something” About Gaza Humanitarian Crisis

by BAR staff

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has called upon President-Elect Barack Obama to “please, say something about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced by the Palestinian people, by the people of Gaza.” McKinney spoke to CNN news from the Lebanese city of Tyre, where she had debarked from the relief vessel Dignity after it was rammed on the high seas by an Israeli patrol boat, early Tuesday morning. Passengers also report the Israelis fired machine guns into the water near their ship.

McKinney was among the passengers on an attempted voyage from the island of Cyprus to Gaza, where Israeli bombs and missiles have killed hundreds of Palestinians, including many civilians, since Saturday. The Dignity carried three tons of medical supplies and a number of doctors prepared to treat the more than 1,000 Gazans wounded in the Israeli attacks. The 66-foot craft had made two previous humanitarian relief trips to Gaza since the summer. Israel has blocked food, medicines and other essentials from entering Gaza in a campaign of collective punishment against the 1.5 million Palestinians that live there under a Hamas Party administration.

President-Elect Obama has been silent on the Israeli attacks, while President George Bush has supported Israel’s actions.

“I would like to ask my former colleagues in the United States Congress to stop sending weapons of mass destruction around the world,” said McKinney, who was the Green Party’s presidential candidate in November. “As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, let us remember what he said. He said that the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. And guess what: we experienced a little bit of that violence, because the weapons that are being used by Israel are weapons that were supplied by the United States government.”

A CNN reporter who accompanied the passengers and crew of the Dignity confirmed that the boat “was sailing with full lights” when “one of the Israeli patrol boats, with no lights on, rammed the Dignity, hard.”

Israel blames the collision on the relief vessel.

Said McKinney: “Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front, once on the side…. What the Israelis are saying is outright disinformation.”

McKinney compared the Israeli action against the Dignity to the attack on a U.S. naval vessel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. “I recall that there was another boat that was attacked by Israelis, and it was the U.S.S Liberty.” Thirty-four crewmen died and 170 were wounded by fire from Israeli planes and torpedo boats. The Israelis claim it was a case of mistaken identity. “People would like to forget about the U.S.S. Liberty,” said McKinney, “but I haven’t forgotten about it and the people who were on that ship have not forgotten what happened to them.”


Are “Arabs” killing “Black Africans” in Darfur?

And how does the African press media across the continent react about the Darfur situation?

An essay by Carina Ray from New African, January 2009.

Are “Arabs” killing “Black Africans” in Darfur?

African newspapers have followed the war in Darfur closely over the last several years. Yet, much of the reportage casts the violence as a race war perpetrated by “Arabs” against “Black Africans”. This racialised language clouds, rather than clarifies, the complicated nature of this deadly conflict, in which a brutal government counterinsurgency strategy has mobilised Arabised African nomads in its fight against a just armed uprising by Darfur’s settled population.

Just as it is widely acknowledged that the media in America and Europe have forcefully kept Darfur on the international agenda, so too has the African media kept the issue of Darfur alive. Since the escalation of the war in 2003, African newspapers have increasingly featured news and commentary on Darfur. Indeed, Africans all over the continent have been writing and reading about Darfur on a regular and increasingly frequent basis.

A recent search of the allAfrica database, for instance, turned up over 1,500 articles on Darfur published between 2004 and 2007 in English-language African newspapers alone. Given that French, Arabic, and African-language newspapers were not searched, these articles represent only a fraction of actual reportage. Nonetheless, they unequivocally demonstrate that vigorous discussions about the conflict have taken place throughout the continent, and by all indications will continue to do so until a just and lasting resolution has been put into place.

As I surveyed the articles, I was struck by the fact that most African newspapers posited race as the primary causal factor of the obscene violence in Darfur. The war was regularly described in oversimplified racialised terms that reveal an anti-Arab bias and construct Darfur’s so-called Arabs as foreigners. Indeed the complex identity politics involved in the conflict have been largely reduced to a narrative of “good versus evil” or “African versus Arab”. Strikingly, the racial labels that have been used to demarcate the fault lines in this conflict are often the same as those used by the Western media.

Typical of much of the reportage on the violence in Darfur is the following description found in a 6 July 2004 New Vision (government-owned daily newspaper in Uganda) article: “ . . . thousands have been killed and more than a million black Africans have fled attacks by Arab militiamen [emphasis added].” While the article focused on various African Union, United Nations, and United States’ pronouncements on Darfur, the only causal factor given to explain the violence was racial difference. This point is reiterated later when we are informed that “UN officials and human rights groups have accused Sudan of backing the Arab militias, engaged in a campaign to expel African farmers [emphasis added].”

Given the absence of any other explanatory tools for understanding the multiple sources of the violence, and most especially the central government’s longstanding practices of marginalisation, underdevelopment, repression and neglect of its “peripheries”, the reader is left to conclude that what is occurring in Darfur is a race war perpetrated by “Arabs” against “black Africans”. Racial antipathy is therefore posited as the reason why groups that historically lived, traded, intermarried, and interacted with one another, for the most part, in a synergistic fashion, are now in the midst of a deadly war in which the obscene imbalance of power between a well-armed brutal government and its ruthless militias on the one hand, and the Darfurian rebels on the other, has led to the unconscionable deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Darfurian civilians and the displacement of millions more.

Opinion pieces also expressed the view that the root of the violence was to be found, as one headline put it, in the fact that “bigotry still assaults black Africans”. The most extreme example of this trend appeared in 2004 in the popular Nigerian daily newspaper, ThisDay, under the title “Genocide in Sudan”. In the course of criticising “Black African nations” for re-electing a Sudanese government delegate to represent Africa on the UN Commission on Human Rights, the author B. A. Akwiwu described the perpetrators of violence in Darfur as “rabid Arab militias” and “murderous Arabs”, and the victims as “Black Africans”.

Akwiwu concluded his lament with the following assertion: “It is bad enough that the black nations have not done anything to defend their people in Sudan but that we should be locked in a cosy embrace with these Arabs who have turned our people into hunting game is soul destroying.” Even if other opinion pieces were less extreme in their characterisations, like much of the news reportage on Darfur, there still emerged the sense that many perceive the conflict in Darfur as being primarily motivated by anti-African racism, on the part of “Arabs”. But who are these so-called Arabs? Are they not also Africans? Ironically, this false dichotomy, which implicitly relies on the old trope of a geographically-cum-racially divided North and Sub-Saharan Africa, is being used to describe a conflict in the African country that perhaps best defies, indeed obliterates, the idea of two distinct Africas.

The way in which Sudan’s heterogeneous population often gets characterised as if it is bifurcated into two distinct groups (Arab and African) is exemplified in the following excerpt from a 26 July 2004 editorial in The East African Standard: “Sudan, the bridge between black and Arab Africa, should lead in rewriting the historical script between the two peoples.” What this fails to miss is that the historical script was rewritten long ago when Africans and Arabs in the Sudan first came into contact with one another and began intermixing. The idea that Sudan’s “Arabs” are not “Africans” and that its “Africans” are not also, in many cases, “Arab” is what is in need of being rewritten.

This should not be taken as a denial of Sudan’s heterogeneity. After all it is one of Africa’s most linguistically, religiously, ethnically, and racially diverse countries; rather, it is precisely this intense heterogeneity that flies in the face of the idea that Sudan is inhabited by two distinct geographically bounded racial groups: Arabs in the North and Black Africans in the South. The demographics of Darfur, alone, make nonsense out of this notion.What is all the more striking about the application of this formulation to Darfur is that it absolves the government of its leading role in the conflict. Khartoum is regarded as a supporting actor: “backing” Arab militias, but not directing them. For instance, a 10 August 2004 article in Nigeria’s Daily Champion argued that Darfur would not be in such a “grim situation” had the Sudanese government “not given full support to the Arab militias called the Janjawid, who have taken free rein to rape, rob and kill the black Africans.”

This places the cart before the horse. Accordingly, instead of being held responsible for empowering and financing the Janjawid to do its bidding in Darfur, the government is simply accused of not doing enough to reign in the renegade Janjawid. Indicative of this is the fact that the government’s use of its own officially recognised troops and military equipment in perpetrating the violence is rarely mentioned. In short, the de facto reliance on “Arab versus Black African” as the basis for understanding the fault lines of the conflict is reflective of the profoundly reductive nature of much of the reportage on Darfur and what amounts to an almost willful denial of the historical relationships and overlaps between Darfur’s so-called Arabs and Africans.

Indeed, “Arab” and “African” are falsely constructed as mutually exclusive categories – once someone is labelled “Arab” he/she ceases to be African and vice versa. Based on this formulation there is, moreover, almost no recognition of “Arab” indigenity; rather those who are defined as “Arab” are conceptually relegated to being permanent outsiders and usurpers of the land, while those labelled “African” are conceptually defined by a static and timeless rendering of history in which their ties to the land are primordial rather than shaped by patterns of migration, state-building, and ecological change. One need only look at photos of the so-called Arab Janjawid and the so-called Black African rebels to see how these categories cloud rather than clarify our understanding of how identity factors into the war in Darfur. The deceptive power of these labels is simultaneously made possible by the fallacy of race and the steadfastness with which people invest in racial categories as explanatory tools.

Yet, we must also acknowledge the very real role that local actors have played in the internal racialisation of this conflict. The Al Bashir government in Khartoum has both invoked and evoked Arab supremacy in its efforts to garner regional support and to mobilise the Janjawid to carry out its dirty war. Members of the Janjawid, despite their African ancestry, have willingly bought into this ideology as a means of securing their own interests in a time of increased competition over diminishing resources.

So too has the Africanisation of Darfurian identities among the rebel movements and their citizenry emerged as a powerful means of coalition building within Sudan, especially among the SPLM/A and its broad base of supporters. It has also been an effective strategy for eliciting support within Africa and from the international community in the context of the current conflict. Beyond this, however, we must ask about the wider political agendas that are being promoted through the constant deployment of such problematic and obfuscating categories as the primary lens through which the violence is explained.

In his essay “The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, and Insurgency” (London Review of Books, March 2007), the respected Ugandan scholar, Mahmood Mamdani, underscores how the twinned processes of depoliticising and racialising the war in Darfur have enabled various international actors to paint it as a genocide perpetrated by “Arabs”. One needs little education in the politics of fear and anti-Arabism in the post-9/11 world to understand that demonising Arabs has been a critical component of legitimising America’s “war on terror”. We must be equally critical in asking ourselves what is behind the apparent anti-Arab sentiment that characterises so much of the reportage and commentary on the war in Darfur in African newspapers.

[Picture from Black Agenda Report and from the article: Ten Reasons Why "Save Darfur" is a PR Scam to Justify the Next US Oil and Resource Wars in Africa]

The Native Returns

Raza Rumi.

Twenty years ago, I left Lahore. Excited by prospects of quality higher education and the adolescent yearning for freedom, this was a moment that only with age I have understood. A flash that alters the life-path even when one is not aware of it. As I grew up and visited Lahore from a multitude of cities and continents, Lahore’s provincialism and inward-looking ethos irked me. However, the splendour of its lived history and multi-layered present fascinated me endlessly. A false sense of fatalism whispered that my exile was going to cover a life-span.

The last few years were spent abroad: so dejected I was that not living in Lahore would mean living just anywhere. When I decided this summer to return to Pakistan, I was astounded by the reactions from all and sundry. I was told that I am ‘mad’ to have chosen to return to a burning, imploding and crashing Pakistan. Such is the power of global corporate media that even the discerning and schooled Pakistanis have started to believe in the failed state mantra scripted outside Pakistan.

My own parents, temporary residents of Islamabad, scared by the blasts advised me against it. Others from the more indulgent school of thought were aghast with my decision to return to a country where power outages, crumbling urban infrastructure and pollution define urban living. Of all the nightmares cited was that who knows if the country would survive? Such cynicism and unmasked pessimism about Pakistan is always disturbing, yet familiar. My question is when was the country not about to unravel since 1947?

Continue reading.

[Image coutresy: fredericknoronha]

Obama-Mania and yes, there is an alternative to vote someone else

City of Brass has posted Obama’s 3 million $ add campaign. If that is not buying the election, I don’t know what else you’d call it. How would the Obama-Mania bloggers react if John McCain was buying the presidency? And they complain about Sarah Palin’s 150K $ wardrobe? That does not make sense folks.

Watching the US election coverage in mainstream media, you might have thought that there are only two candidates. That is not true. You do have other candidates to choose. And you are actually promoting the ‘greater evil’ if you think you are just supporting the ‘lesser evil’.

Reporter Embedded With the Taliban

Brother Naeem, back from his Ramadan hiatus-

My problem with the jihad being waged by the Taliban is illustrated in this passage of the article:

“Ibrahim’s recent injury, it turns out, was the result of a clash between his forces and a group of foreign fighters under the command of Dr. Khalil. The foreigners wanted to close down a girls’ school, sparking a battle. Two Arabs and 11 Pakistanis commanded by Dr. Khalil had been killed by Ibrahim’s men.”

These fighters may spend most of their time praying in the masjid (as mentioned in the article), but they have no problem turning around and killing each other over differences in religious interpretation.

How very typical of this Ummah.

From Reporter Embedded with Taliban.

Powell on Muslims in America

So, Colin Powell seems to have excited a section of the Muslim blogosphere with his comments:

“Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is?”

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Cookie Monster, currently blogless, has the following to say:

I believe what he said can actually – over time – marginalize anti-Muslim sentiment and make it very hard for people like Ann Coulter and Daniel Pipes to spread their ideas. These statements can cut into the base of anti-Muslim sentiment by challenging the assumptions of Muslim-basher sympathetics and winning them over to a more accepting worldview. But this can only happen if establishment politicians, people with a similar place in society like Powell, unequivocally echo his statement, and it would really help if non-liberals were at the forefront. Lay liberals are more tolerant than their lay Republican counterparts, and it is the latter who make up the majority of Muslim bashers. If Republicans, or individuals with deep ties to the Republican base can echo Powell, then- over time, again- we may see anti-Muslim rhetoric pushed further away from the mainstream in much the same way we’ve seen racist sentiment fade over time.

I don’t believe anti-Muslim sentiment will ever die out, but I do believe it can be marginalized. The more mainstream figures like Powell make these statements, the more tougher the job of the typical, loser Muslim-basher gets.

Of course we don’t depend on Powell or anyone for that matter to give us honor or anything like that, I don’t think anyone would say that. What Powell and others would do ‘mainstream’ our existence here as practicing Muslims and debilitate the ability of the Muslim-bashers to undermine our da’wah and impugn our very presence here in America.