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Archive for category RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE

Christchurch massacre By Asif Haroon Raja

Christchurch massacre

Asif Haroon Raja

 

“The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery.” – 

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), US civil rights leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gruesome massacre of the Muslims in the two mosques in Christchurch, third largest city of New Zealand on March 15, has sparked horror and has shocked the world. Although New Zealand is considered as one of the safest countries in the world, Christchurch itself has a history of Far-Right violence. Several attacks had taken place in the past since the 1980s.

Australian born gunman Brenton Tarrant mowed down 41 worshippers offering Friday prayers in Al-Noor Mosque, killed ten in another mosque in Linwood and injured 50 including women and children. Among the martyred, nine were Pakistanis including two (father and son) who grappled with the assassin and tried to snatch his gun. After exhausting ammunition of his two semi-automatic guns marked with logos, the assassin brought his third gun from the trunk of his car and kept firing on the dead and injured to make sure none survived. The visiting Bangladesh cricket team had a narrow escape. Remorseless Brenton and his 3 accomplices were arrested and produced before the court on the following day.

 

The maniac Brenton espouse anti-immigrant and Islamophobia ideology. Obsessed with Far-Right and Neo-Nazi ideology, he uploaded a 74-page manifesto describing the Muslim immigrants as a threat to western culture and his motivation for his actions. He was planning this attack for two years and had informed all concerned about his intentions. Inspired by Norwegian Far-Right terrorist Anders Breivik, believing in white supremacy and considering Donald Trump as his hero, his objective was to scare away immigrants in New Zealand.  He video-recorded the entire grisly episode.

Morbidity of the wanton slaughter has horrified all and sundry and everyone is describing the killer as a monster. Visibly disturbed PM of New Zealand Jacinda Arden dubbed it as the darkest day. Wearing black clothes, she condoled and consoled the bereaved families and the Muslims in Christchurch. The PM of Australia called the gunman a violent extremist, but failed to call it a ‘terrorist attack’. UNSC held a one-minute silence to express grief. However, Trump initially refused to denounce the carnage and denied that white extremism is the rising threat. On New Zealand PM’s insistence that he should express sympathy for the Muslims, he changed his stance but still didn’t term Brenton a terrorist.

Brenton’s place of origin Australia has a dark history of pursuing repugnant racist migration policies for almost two centuries and where white fascism is scaling new heights. Australia will need to do more to recognize its legacy of racist violence against non-white populations.  

This grisly incident is a big slap on the face of the US-led western world that has been constantly demonizing Islam and the Muslims and branding them as terrorists. Western leaders have been equating Islam with fascism. It is this fixated mindset which kept the Global War on Terror (GWOT) confined to the Muslim world only.

Tragically, Buddhists kill Muslims in Burma, Christians kill Muslims in Afghanistan, Middle East, Africa and the West, Hindus in Kashmir, Jews in Palestine. Still, Muslim is branded a terrorist.  If a non-Muslim kills, he is described as a mentally disturbed shooter; if a Muslim kills even in self-defence, he is a terrorist. Two set of laws are in vogue in the USA and in Europe. White perpetrators of violence are seen as individual acts owing to mental illness. In the case of Muslims, violence is explained as the clash of civilization and all Muslims and Islam are blamed. Radicalism has been tagged to Islam only.   

A German Muslim scholar when asked to give his views on terrorism and Islam, he said:  “Who started the 1st world war? Not Muslims!! Who started the 2nd world war? Not Muslims!! Who killed six million Jews in the Holocaust? Not Muslims!! Who killed 20 million Aborigines in Australia? Not Muslims!! Who dropped bombs upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not Muslims!! Who killed more than 100 million Indians in North America? Not Muslims!! Who killed over 50 million Indians in South America? Not Muslims!! Who took away about 180 million chained African people in ships to the USA as slaves and 88% of them died and were thrown overboard into the Atlantic Ocean? Not Muslims!!”

The US, Western Europe, Israel and India dub all Muslims as extremists and terrorists without defining terrorism. If a non-Muslim does something bad, it is crime. If a Muslim commits the same crime, he is termed as a terrorist. They justify the demonization of Islam and Muslims under the caption of ‘freedom of expression’. However, the Holocaust cannot be doubted or criticized. The rise of racism and fascism in the non-Muslim countries have not been taken seriously. These curses are more rampant in the USA, Western Europe, Israel and India. Hatred against Muslims has been systematically injected on the basis of false perceptions and misconceptions about Islam.       

Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Spain and the UK had voiced serious concern over the migration of refugees from Syria and Libya and said it must be stopped. The refugee influx, an unprecedented rise of Far-Right parties in Europe, UK’s Brexit and incident of San Bernardino and Paris attacks in 2015 have given a toxic rise to Islamophobia and hate crimes. The Far-Right and well-funded Islamophobic network have espoused blatantly racist ideas. Muslims are seen as the enemy ‘within’. So-called educated elite are in the lead to dehumanize the Muslims. Discriminatory policies such as a ban on hijab, veil, and on mosque minarets and restricting freedom of speech and religious practices are in practice.  

Islamophobia has become a real danger to the foundations of democratic order and values in Europe. It has also become the main challenge to social peace and co-existence of different cultures, religions, ethnicities in Europe. Everyday life of a Muslim in Europe be it at school, workplace, mosque, transportation or on streets is in constant danger.

Racism is more entrenched in Europe than in the USA since it has a colonial history in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Even after decolonization, racist ideas and practices have persisted. Europe used anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric and blamed them for Europe’s economic woes to make electoral gains in 2010. The British National Party, Wilder’s Party in Holland and Sweden’s Democrats made political gains. The latter gained power on the anti-Muslim campaign.  

In the USA, Islamophobia and Orientalism is more recent which gained currency after the 2nd world war when the power of European nations declined and the USA emerged as a superpower. Closeness with Israel was another factor. The threat of Islamic fundamentalism was coined after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. Neocons-Likud alliance shaped the Jihadist threat in the 1980s. After the fragmentation of USSR and demise of Communism in 1991, Communism was replaced with Islam as the major threat to the New World Order and Capitalism.

It was in the 1990s that Far-Right in the USA began to engage with Islamophobia and surged up after 9/11. The American Far-Right collaborated with European Far-Right and both developed a common global counter Jihadist narrative and movement. Crimes against the Muslims in the USA, Canada, Australia, UK and Western Europe and now in New Zealand, have risen alarmingly but their crimes have never been labelled as terrorism. Far-Right in Europe has gathered strength because of the weakness of the Left and Centre-Left.

In the USA, both the Republicans and Democrats have promoted racism, fascism and have supported the war on terror. Both have made use of racist policing to help consolidate national security state and promote US imperialism from the era of cold war to the war on terror. 9/11 was a false flag operation and GWoT launched in October 2001 was a cover plan to achieve geostrategic and geo-economic objectives. George W. Bush Junior initiated the war on terror without defining terrorism. He and his team of neocons coopted NATO, India and Israel and excluded the Christians, Jews and Hindus from terrorism. Their guns were focused against Islam and the Muslims only. Except for North Korea, all the listed targets in the axis of evil were Muslim countries.

Barak Obama further ratcheted up the hatred against Muslim countries. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were targeted on fake charges. Trump has given a fillip to the rise in anti-Muslim feelings in the West since he has all along been spewing venom against them. He scapegoated the immigrants to distract the attention of the American working class from joblessness, lack of healthcare and other social inequities. Corporate media has not only fanned Islamophobia and racism but also endorsed Trump’s rhetoric on white supremacy. The US security apparatus, hawks in the two political parties, universities and think tanks have also been fueling Islamophobia and promoting gun culture.

In the last 18 years, Muslims have been disliked, hated and brutalized. Several Muslim countries have been destroyed, prosperous cities ruined, millions of Muslims killed, millions widowed, orphaned, crippled and rendered homeless. Marooned people of Syria and Libya were left with no option but to migrate to other countries. They have now become a monstrosity for the Far-Right nationalists in Europe and USA.

The gory game of bloodshed and mayhem was played with the help of hired proxies and puppet Muslim regimes. The world at large let the crusaders kill and maim the Muslims at will, myopically imagining that it will make the world safe and secure. Today, the whole world is turbulent and much more unsafe than what it was prior to 9/11. 

The US has used maximum force in Afghanistan but has failed to subdue the Taliban whom they used to call terrorists, but today it is holding direct peace talks with them and bending over backwards to convince them to arrive at a political settlement and let the US troops exit with honour. The US in its quest to seize control of oilfields and to establish Greater Israel by changing the boundaries of the Middle East has bloodied the whole region and turned it into a vortex of chaos.

Once ISIS was created by CIA in 2006 in Iraq to fight Al-Qaeda and then was used in Syria to topple Bashar Al- Assad regime, large numbers of white Jihadis veered toward this newly formed caliphate in 2014-2015. The phenomenon of white Jihadis is attributable to rampant gun culture in the USA and western countries and the arrogant attitude of the elites. Since then, chickens have come home to roost. Terrorism has now seeped into Europe and in the USA.

After 9/11, successive regimes in the USA have been claiming that terrorism is the major threat to the integrity of the USA as well as to global peace. However, the fact is that gun violence poses a much bigger threat to the USA than terrorism. Since 2001, 406,496 Americans were killed by guns in the USA in comparison to 3380 killed worldwide due to terrorism. In the USA, Jihadists killed 45 people since 9/11. All shootings in schools were perpetrated by white men and boys. Ironically when an American Muslim was found involved in San Bernardino, it was quoted to justify launching war on terror and homeland security.    

Christchurch tragedy has left the Muslims residing in western countries terrorized and traumatized. It has once again brought to light that terrorism has no religion, colour, race or gender and has no boundaries. Instead of focusing only on the Muslim world and blaming Muslims to be solely responsible for terrorism, the US and Europe need to introspect and carry out unbiased appraisal to determine as to who is responsible for triggering terrorism which has spread to every nook and corner of the world. They must admit that the growing threat of Far-Right terrorism has not been taken seriously since their entire attention has remained focused on Islamic radicalism.

Terrorism is the common enemy which needs to be collectively defeated under a well-thought-out strategy. It needs an integrated fight and united approach by the whole international community.  

If the world is to be made peaceful, and a secure place to live, the US, Israel and India, the three strategic partners in crime and the West will have to do away with double standards and hypocrisy. They must change their policy of violence and injustice and instead take the path of peace. While the bloody war on terror must end, Islamophobia must be replaced with a policy of co-existence, inter-faith harmony and amiability.

The US and the West must recognize the growing threat of Far-Right, racism and fascism, and initiate steps to eradicate these menaces at the earliest. The gun culture must be radically reformed. The two oldest disputes – Palestine and Kashmir – are probably the root cause of the growth of extremism in the Muslim world. These must be speedily resolved.  

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist and author of five books. He is Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC PESS, and Member Council TJP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com   

 

 

 

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OPINION: Extremism is what matters all else is secondary

What is destroying our country: Extremism + Terrorism = Sectarianism.
K. Bajwa

Extremism is what matters all else is secondary

 
 
Ayaz Amir
Tuesday, August 13, 2013 
From Print Edition
 
 

Islamabad diary

 
Punjab, heart and soul of Pakistan, will it also now be the death of Pakistan? Dangerous thought but relevant question because the land of the five rivers, now also the land which rules the rest of troubled Pakistan, has its head buried deep in the sand, conscious of every problem under the sun except what is destroying this country: extremism, terrorism and the by-product of these two, sectarianism.
 
Not theoretical sectarianism… with that most societies can live…but murderous sectarianism, its work accomplished by the bullet and the bomb. So much so that the Shiite community is on the verge of mentally exiting from the ideological confines of a republic confused by nothing so much as its ideology.
 
Spectacular jailbreaks which reveal as much about Taliban skill and daring as the bankruptcy of our defences, or random killings across the country…but it’s much more than that. Consider the sweep of Taliban strategy. They strike at targets in the Frontier – Bannu, DI Khan – and just when we think the problem is the Frontier, there is an incident across the Line of Control and, overnight, a crisis with India, thus diverting, like nothing else could, the attention of the Pakistan Army.
 
Not just strategy but grand strategy, Mumbai on a smaller scale: just when the army is engaged in the west, pull its attention to the east.
 
Yet we are still thinking what to do….still, Allah be praised, trying to stitch together that exercise in metaphysics called our counter-terrorism policy. Pity the strain on our minds because the government of the mini-mandate, in essence a Punjabi government, is still not mentally ready to grasp the true dimensions of this problem.
 
It is not ready to accept the fact that Taliban terrorism is no longer just about the American presence in Afghanistan or the Emirate of North Waziristan. Its sources, its support bases, are now spread across the country, not least in the sacred land of the five rivers.
 
But to strike at these madressahs and watering holes in Punjab, to take up this fight in earnest, is to court the hostility of conservative Punjab. And conservative Punjab, retail-bazaar Punjab, middle-class Punjab, is from where the big or small mandate draws its primary strength.
 
This is a paralysis of politics. It is about evenly matched by a creeping paralysis on the military front. For all practical purposes the army chief is now a lame-duck chief, his over-extended term ending in November. He has done good things including resuscitating army morale after the disasters of the Musharraf years, although one wishes he could have kept some check on the business skills of his brothers.
 
Of what use present pomp and glory if in years to come what is remembered about him are the exploits of his near and dear ones? Musharraf did a lot of good too. But in today’s climate is anyone willing to say a kindly word about him? In a Republic like ours we never seem to learn. And our paladins never seem to know when to depart.
 
So there we have it: a government to all appearances with all the authority it needs, a prime minister certainly with more authority than his predecessors or even Musharraf, but heads buried deep in the sand, and an army command ruefully contemplating the evening sun as it is about to set.
 
This is a vacuum of the deepest sort, government and command at a standstill. Chaudhry Nisar, the interior minister, is an able man but he talks too much, a loudspeaker constantly on. Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Sipah-e-Sahaba, the tentacles of what we have started calling the Punjabi Taliban, are all in Punjab. The frontlines of extremism may be in the Frontier. But the ‘strategic depth’ of this phenomenon is now in Punjab. From the attitude of the Punjab government, which claims infallibility for itself, one wouldn’t suspect this at all.
 
Forget about formulating a policy on terrorism. That can wait. Mosque loudspeakers in Punjab now defy the Loudspeaker Ordinance, as they defy common sense. If the interior ministry tackles this nuisance first maybe its words come to merit greater credibility.
 
Surprising thing is that where the government wants to act, and where its heart is, it can act very fast. Look at the circular debt payoffs to power producers. No questions asked and no list of who’s been given what. Nandipur power project, its cost jacked up and up, but government unfazed. When it comes to interests close to the bone, all innocence disappears and alacrity is the watchword. When it comes to extremism and terrorism, probably because there is no immediate profit in this, it is either (for more meditation) a trip to Murree, favourite summer destination, or the way of the ostrich.
 
The Taliban are inhibited by no such compulsions, minds distracted by no Nandipur adventures. They are focused utterly on the destabilisation of the Pakistani state and the spread of extremist thought. This is what makes this an unequal contest. The Republic has resources and guns and the atom bomb. But it lacks leadership and what leadership there is, gifts of a wayward destiny, is without conviction.
 
One thing is for sure, and this can be the first commandment of war. Expect no Battle of Stalingrad, no Vietnam, no victories in the mountains, from a leadership which has most of its money parked abroad. This is a contradiction in terms, not resolvable by platitudes. Similarly, an army command infected by that most alluring of fancies, love of real estate, can lead a nation in no life-and-death struggle. Call this the second commandment.
 
How many houses did Churchill own? Only Chartwell Manor which he bought with his money from his books and journalism. And after the war, imagine this, he couldn’t afford to keep the house and a consortium of businessmen bought it and the arrangement was that as long as he and his wife lived they would pay nominal rent and after their deaths the estate would go to the National Trust. On Churchill’s death in 1965 his wife decided to hand over the house to the National Trust immediately. How many suits did Stalin possess? How extensive was Ho Chi Minh’s wardrobe?
 
So what are we talking about? In normal times none of this would have mattered. The Sharifs could have doubled their Raiwind estate and army chiefs could have more private homes than they have become accustomed to. But the Taliban are at the gates and they have the initiative and a better sense of strategy, a better sense of the indirect approach, than the Military Operations Directorate.
 
For most of us this is the only country we are likely to have. We have already made a cult of the ‘internally-displaced person’ (IDP). The greatest Partition of the last century fell to our lot. Dismemberment we have experienced. How many more traumas can we go through, especially when the space for traumas is shrinking? The IDPs of the Khyber Agency can find refuge near Peshawar, those of North Waziristan in Kohat. To which kingdom on the hill will the IDPs of Punjab go?
 
So the luxury of half-measures is not ours to afford because time is slipping by, and time is not on our side. And please select a proper army chief, a fighting man, not a desk-bound general, or someone keen on remaking his fortune. If the Sharifs fumble this, and they will have their own calculations, then forget about Churchill. Let the spirit of appeasement guide us as we respectfully approach the Taliban, peace-offerings in hand and ingratiating smiles on our lips.
 
Tailpiece: Two excellent columns on terrorism I have just read, one by Ayesha Siddiqa, the other by Tariq Mahmud, former interior secretary. This means we have people who understand the problem. Why are our bonzes so dumb?
 
 
 
 

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