Saturday, January 10, 2015

I Am Not Charlie; I Am Ahmed

Ahmed Merabet was a French Muslim police officer who died defending the people at Charlie Hebdo who mocked his prophet and his religion.  He was a real hero. He stood for the rule-of-law and against vigilante justice imposed by the terrorists who attacked and killed a dozen people at Charlie Hebdo's office in Paris, France. So I honor him by saying "I am Ahmed" (Je Suis Ahmed).

French Police Officer Ahmed Merabet
As I condemn the terrorist attack and honor Ahmed's memory, I must also say why "I am not Charlie" (Je ne suis pas Charlie).  Here are my reasons:

1. While I  strongly condemn the terror attack and sympathize with the families of those killed at Charlie Hebdo's office, I do not lionize satirists who"punch down" rather than "punch up", to borrow from Daily Beast's Arthur Chu.  The whole idea of satire is to challenge those in positions of power and authority rather than the underdogs like the poor French Muslims who make up 60 to 70 percent of the prison population despite being less than 10 percent of the population overall.

2.  People who defend Charlie Hebdo as an "equal opportunity offender" are just plain wrong.  There was at least one instance where Charlie apologized for a satirical piece and fired  Sine (Maurice Sinet) the cartoonist for an "anti-Semitic" caricature of Ms. Sebaoun-Darty, the Jewish wife of President Nicholas Sarkozy's son Jean Sarkozy.

3. France's commitment to civil liberties is selective. While it is strongly invoked as absolute when Charlie mocks Islam and its prophet, it does not extend to Muslim women's right to choose what they wear. The French law against “religious symbols in public spaces” is specifically enforced to target Muslim women who wear hijab.

Negative stereotyping of Prophet Mohammad has been the preoccupation of generations of Western writers from the time of the Crusades to the present day. Among those who have engaged in highly offensive portrayal of Islam's prophet are Italian poet-philosopher Dante Aligheri (1265-1321), Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos (1325-1450) and European "Enlightenment" leader François-Marie Arouet Voltaire (1694-1778). More recently, there have been attempts by Salman Rushdie (Satanic Verses), Kurt Westergaard (Danish Jyllands-Posten cartoons), Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (Innocence of Muslims)  and Charlie Hebdo to ridicule Muslims' most revered leader.

While I strongly condemn the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo and the loss of a dozen lives in Paris, let me remind everyone that Europe has a long history of mocking Islam and its prophet. It is well documented in "Muhammad in Europe" by Minou Reeves which covers everything from Dante's Inferno to Voltaire's Mahomet. What has changed now is that the  emergence of the new Internet-based social media has made such anti-Muslim bigotry much more commerce-oriented and accessible to a global audience.

As we fight the menace of global terror perpetrated in the name of religion, we must also address the genuine issues of racism and rising anti-Muslim bigotry in Europe.  This will require thought leaders on both sides to find common ground for a serious and sustained inter-faith and inter-racial dialog to end the threat of violence.

Here's a video discussion on the subject of terrorism:

Paris Massacre; Kerry-Modi Meeting; TTP's Fazlullah on US Terror List; Anti-Imran Protest from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Here's a related video discussion:

Viewpoint from Overseas - Violent protest on... by faizanmaqsood1010

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Globalization of Hate Speech

The Prophet I Know

Misaq e Madina Inspired Quaid e Azam MA Jinnah

Growing Intolerance in Pakistan

Exposing Congressman King's Hypocrisy

FBI Entrapping Young Muslims

Fighting Agents of Intolerance in Pakistan

Muslim Scholars Must Fight Hate in Pakistan

South Asian Christians Celebrate Christmas in Fear

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision

Pakistan Must Defeat Agents of Intolerance 

Celebrating Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Birthday


Syed said...

I AM Ahmed; I am NOT Charlie.

Taj said...

Congratulation Mr. Haq for such a nice article. I stopped reading your articles about Pakistani politics, as they are boring and same-old same-old. However this was an eye opener, and provided excellent information. It is a breath of fresh air. Please write about social issues, as this is the problem of not only Pakistan but of the Muslim world. Also, you forgot to mention the worker in the kosher super market. He managed to save eleven Jewish lives by hiding them in the freezer with him. He is a Muslim. Thank you for a nice article.

Mayraj said...

I recently bought Gangs of New York for a friend's son (the book was also made into a Scorsese movie-do not know how closely it reflects the book-about actual people/ incidents). You read it and you will understand the mindset that makes people Jihadis. It is not religion, it is other motivation. They use religion to legitimize their behavior. These are amoral people. It is interesting how NYC went from Gangs of New York to mafia to Black/Latino gangs.

An example; One person ( a petty member of a rival gang) killed a major opponent gang leader (Kid Dropper). He killed for revenge and to feel like a hero/be a hero .

Another example One member of a gang also worked as a bouncer and he used a bludgeon. After each hit he would put notch in his bludgeon. One day he split the skull of an elderly man for no apparent reason. When asked why he did it, he aid because he had 49 notches and wanted to add 1 turn them into 50!

Vost said...

When terrorists in Moscow killed tens of people in subway, those "charlies" made fun of it and painted funny pictures. So - I am NOT "charlie"

Tambi Dude said...

As we fight the menace of global terror perpetrated in the name of religion, we must also address the genuine issues of racism and rising anti-Muslim bigotry in Europe.
Interestingly Hindus in Europe do not feel the same. May be muslims need to figure out why they are hated all over the world. From Bill Maher, Bill O-Reilley,Robert Spencer, Michael Savage to Charlies, everyone seem to 'hate' muslims. Could it due to non stop terrorism.

Of course no muslim immigrant living in the west would go back to the muslim country they were born despite rising bigotry. I guess defending islam has its limits too.

Muslims have all but lost all credibility and respect in the west , thanks to their own doing.

Riaz Haq said...

'I am not Charlie:" cracks in the unity after Paris attacks

...scepticism has emerged on the one hand from surviving Charlie Hebdo workers who reject some of the support for them as insincere; from others who found the weekly plain offensive; and others who question the human rights records of the 40-plus world leaders taking part in Sunday's unity march in Paris.

"There are so many big words being said about freedom of expression and democracy. But where was the support (for it) before? There wasn't that much proof," 26-year-old math student Nalo Magalhou said of some of the political and media reaction.

While far less popular than #JeSuisCharlie ("#IamCharlie"), the #IamNotCharlie hashtag has also appeared on Twitter.

To be sure, there is a fringe minority on the Internet who have praised the attacks that killed 17 in three separate attacks over three days and culminated in the siege of a kosher deli in eastern Paris.

But more significant is the body of people who say that while they outright condemn the attacks, they still cannot bring themselves to support a newspaper that mocked religions.

"It would be too easy (to say) I am Charlie," Belgian blogger Marcel Sel wrote on his website.

Horrified by the attacks he unreservedly condemns, he said it would be "cowardly" to pretend he is "Charlie" while he had harshly criticized some of its cartoons on Islam in the past.

Zakaria Moumni, a 34-year-old Franco-Moroccan draped in the French flag at the Place de la Republique rally point for Sunday's march has a very different reason to think there are cracks in the facade of unity.

"Some heads of state and government simply should not be there when they crack down on freedom of expression in their own country. It's hypocritical," said the former Thai box champion, who says he had been tortured in Morocco and had received support from NGOs such as Human Rights Watch when jailed there.

Morocco has rejected accusations of torture and last March filed a legal complaint in France against them.

For veteran Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Holtrop, the problem is with some of the paper's new "friends."

Holtrop, famous in France under the name of Willem, said he was happy if people worldwide marched to defend freedom of speech. But asked about support from Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, he said: “We vomit on all those people who are suddenly saying they are our friends."

"We’ve got a lot of new friends – the pope, Queen Elizabeth, Putin. I’ve got to laugh about that," he said. Willem says he is alive only because he does not like going to weekly staff meetings and was not in the Paris office when two gunman erupted and killed his colleagues and two policemen.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani cartoonist Shahid Mahmood talking after Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris:

It was while working in Pakistan during Benazir Bhutto's years as Prime Minister that Mahmood says he and his colleagues were often threatened because of their work. "At the time, the editor actually called me and said 'You know, it may be a good time for you to stay at home.' And I had family members who said 'you should lay low for a while and not go to the office.' … That's sort of the environment that one lives with over there."

Mahmood, who now lives in Canada, also notes that in the days since the Paris killings he's seen a disconnect in how readers have reacted to the images that typically appeared in Charlie Hebdo.

"I feel that anybody should be allowed to show and have an opinion. But I don't think the work that the Parisian magazine showed was terribly eloquent and I actually don't think of it as high quality satire or political commentary," he said. "[But] having grown up in Pakistan, I think that Muslims in general should have a little bit more faith in their belief and when I say that I mean - let people say what they want, it's an opinion - so don't be so insecure about your faith."

Anonymous said...

Pastor Fischer of American Family Association Says Charlie Hebdo Attack Was God's Punishment For Magazine's Blasphemy

Khwaja said...

Muhammad cartoons controversy: What does the Quran say?

Siraj Islam

Tapan Chakraborty: When Muslims respond to Muhammad cartoons with anger and violence, aren’t they doing it according to the instructions of the Quran?

Siraj Islam: Thanks Tapan. No, I do not think Muslims who are responding to Muhammad cartoons with anger and violence, are doing it in accordance with the instructions of the Quran.
In fact, the Quran instructs its followers to deal with mockers and rude people in a most peaceful manner, with patience and tolerance:
The true servants of the Beneficent are those who walk upon the Earth humbly, and when the ignorant ones address them, they say: “Peace!” 25:63
And those who do not bear false witness, and if they pass by vain talk they pass by with dignity. 25:72
And endure with patience whatever they say, and depart from them with a decent departure. 73:10
When you hear God’s messages being rejected and ridiculed in, then do not sit with them until they move on to a different topic. 4:140
And when you see those who engage in mocking Our messages, then turn away from them until they move on to a different topic. 6:68
Thus Muslims are not allowed to punish people for their insults and mockery of Islam (e.g. FOR DRAWING A CARTOON ABOUT THE PROPHET):
Hold to forgiveness, and enjoin kindness; and leave alone those who choose to remain ignorant. 7:199
To these We grant twice the reward for that they have been patient. And they counter evil with good, and from Our provisions to them, they give.
And if they come across vain talk, they disregard it and say: “To us are our deeds, and to you, your deeds. Peace be upon you. We do not seek to behave like the ignorant ones.” 28:54-55
So people who react with impatience or violence against those who insult Islam are actually behaving like ‘ignorant ones’ (28:55) and not following the real teaching of Islam. This is because any intolerant behavior against these people is against divine law that acknowledges freedom of choice, opinion and expression.
It is important to observe here that the Quran directly condems this sort of intolerant behaviour as behaviour of ‘IGNORANT ONES’.
Well, regarding recurrent apostasy and persistent rejection of the Truth, the Quran highlights only their moral consequences (3:85-90, 4:137). But – since there is no compulsion in religion (2:256) – it NEVER and NOWHERE prescribes any worldly punishment for ‘apostasy’, while confirming that there is always room for repentance (3:89).
Please bear in mind that, time and time again, the Quran denounces imposition of faith and promotes tolerance and freedom of opinion, creed and expression of thought:
See: 2:38, 2:62, 2:111-112, 2:113-115, 2:135-136, 2:138-2:141, 2:142-143, 2:148, 2:213, 2:253, 2:256, 2:285, 3:19, 3:64-65, 3:103, 3:113-115, 3:199, 4:36, 4:90, 4:122-125, 4:135-137, 4:140, 4:162, 5:8, 5:48, 5:69, 5:105, 6:52, 6:102-108, 6:149, 7:35, 7:199, 10:11, 10:19, 10:41, 10:99-100, 13:38, 15:85, 16:9, 16:93, 16:125, 17:53-54, 17:84, 18:29, 21:92-93, 22:40, 22:67, 23:51-54, 24:35-36, 24:41, 25:63, 29:46, 29:69, 31:15, 31:22, 40:78, 42:5-10, 42:14-15, 42:23, 45:14-15, 45:17, 51:7-8, 60:8, 70:3-5, 73:10, 78:3-4, 88:21-22, 92:1-4, 95:6, 98:4-5, 109:6 and so on.
These are God’s messages that We recite unto thee in truth. So, in which HADITH after God and His messages will they believe? 45:6

Riaz Haq said...

Malian Muslim worker saved Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris, France:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally thanked him. French politicians called for him to be awarded France’s highest honor. And now, just days after a deadly terrorist attack hit a Parisian kosher store, he was dubbed the “Malian Muslim,” the man who risked everything to save the lives of some Jews.

“I want to express my appreciation to the Mali citizen who helped save seven Jews,” Netanyahu said Sunday night during a visit to a synagogue as the audience erupted in cheers.

As French authorities stitched together the details of what transpired during last week’s days of terror, a cast of villains and heroes emerged. There were the French police officers who died during the attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the female officer an Islamist militant gunned down in southern Paris. Then there was the owner of a printing plant who distracted gunmen while a 26-year-old colleague escaped. And finally — perhaps most incredibly — there’s the Malian Muslim.

Riaz Haq said...

'Harry Potter' author J.K. Rowling mocks #RupertMurdoch's tweet that #Muslims allow terrorism #CharlieHebdo

J.K. Rowling had a few words for Rupert Murdoch.

The "Harry Potter" author responded sharply to Murdoch's tweet that while "Maybe most Moslems peaceful," all were responsible for "growing jihadist cancer" until they worked to destroy it.

Murdoch's tweet Friday came two days after the deadly terrorist attack in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The media mogul also tweeted: "Political correctness makes for denial and hypocrisy."

Rowling sent a handful of tweets Sunday attacking Murdoch. She wrote that since she and Murdoch were both Christians, she felt responsible for him and would "auto-excommunicate." She mockingly accepted the blame for the Spanish Inquisition and for any violence by Christian fundamentalists.

"Oh, and Jim Bakker," she added, referring to the American televangelist who was jailed for fraud.

The Spanish Inquisition was my fault, as is all Christian fundamentalist violence. Oh, and Jim Bakker.

Riaz Haq said...

Freedom of speech is a French myth

The bloodbath in Paris, though, had nothing to do with freedom of speech nor, indeed, Islam.

The deliberate provocation of six million Muslims in France and their 1.8 billion co-religionists worldwide through constant racial vulgarity and indignity directed at the Prophet and Islam under the guise of freedom of speech is reckless and reprehensible. Do French "values" and democracy really confer the freedom to denigrate someone who is cherished so deeply by fellow human beings?

It is now being promoted that the French media is free to publish anything as a fundamental right without restrictions of any kind; this is a myth. For example, French law does not permit the publication of material that promotes the use of drugs; hatred based on race or gender; insults about the national flag and anthem; or questions about the Nazi Holocaust. Dieudonné M'Bala, a French comedian and satirist, was convicted and fined in a French court for describing Holocaust remembrance as "memorial pornography".

In fact, in 2008, one of Charlie Hebdo's famous cartoonists, Siné, wrote a short note citing a news item that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's son Jean was going to convert to Judaism to marry the heiress of a prosperous appliance chain. Siné added the comment, "He'll go far, this lad." For that, Siné was sacked on the grounds of his "anti-Semitism".

When Sarkozy was the Interior Minister he ordered the sacking of the director of Paris Match because he had published photos of his wife Cécilia Sarkozy with another man in New York. He even had rapper "Joestarr's" song censored because it criticised the politician.

A French court banned Closer magazine from re-publishing or distributing photographs in France of Britain's Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless. Despite this, Muslim women have been ostracised and forbidden to wear the headscarves in educational institutions and are ridiculed, arrested and fined for wearing the face veil in public.

The "Quenelle" hand sign has been described as anti-establishment and anti-Zionist by French youth and famous footballer Nicolas Anelka. It has stoked serious controversy in France since first being used by anti-establishment comedian M'Bala in 2005. He has been barred from many theatres and convicted a number of times for exercising his "freedom of speech" and using the Quenelle.

Protests by Muslims about blasphemous films and cartoons have been banned by the French authorities; France was the first country in the world to ban demonstrations in support of the Palestinians massacred in Gaza. This has led to the further marginalisation of France's Muslim and African minorities in the political and social life of the nation and increasing anti-Muslim bigotry and hate-crimes.

Many have seen through the hypocrisy of a nation outraged at the murder of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo's office, and yet is complicit with Israel in the murder of 17 journalists and 2,300 men, women and children in Gaza last year.

Tambi Dude said...

Interesting. So on Dec 16th the world sympathized with Pakistan and this is how they repay it???

Riaz Haq said...

Ravi: "Interesting. So on Dec 16th the world sympathized with Pakistan and this is how they repay it???"

So, in your view, 40 Pakistanis in Peshawar who attended this rally represent all of Pakistan with its 180 million people?

"The ceremony was delayed by about an hour and attended by only around 40 people despite many entreaties via loudspeaker."

Now, let me ask you this: Is India not represented by Hindu Nationalist extremist butcher of Gujarat Narendra Modi who was elected PM in a landslide last year? Do you see a Modi-like Muslim figure in position of power in Islamabad?

Riaz Haq said...

Dear liberal pundit,

You and I didn't like George W Bush. Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists"? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubya's slogan: either you are with free speech... or you are against it. Either vous êtes Charlie Hebdo... or you're a freedom-hating fanatic.

In the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds. Yes, the attack was an act of unquantifiable evil; an inexcusable and merciless murder of innocents. But was it really a "bid to assassinate" free speech (ITV's Mark Austin), to "desecrate" our ideas of "free thought" (Stephen Fry)? It was a crime - not an act of war - perpetrated by disaffected young men; radicalised not by drawings of the Prophet in Europe in 2006 or 2011, as it turns out, but by images of US torture in Iraq in 2004.

Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didn't think so (and I am glad it hasn't). Consider also the "thought experiment" offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the "unity rally" in Paris on 11 January "wearing a badge that said 'Je suis Chérif'" - the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. "How would the crowd have reacted?... Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?" Do you disagree with Klug's conclusion that the man "would have been lucky to get away with his life"?


It's for these reasons that I can't "be", don't want to "be", Charlie - if anything, we should want to be Ahmed, the Muslim policeman who was killed while protecting the magazine's right to exist. As the novelist Teju Cole has observed, "It is possible to defend the right to obscene... speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech."

And why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark? Were you not aware that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published caricatures of the Prophet in 2005, reportedly rejected cartoons mocking Christ because they would "provoke an outcry" and proudly declared it would "in no circumstances... publish Holocaust cartoons"?

Does it not bother you to see Barack Obama - who demanded that Yemen keep the anti-drone journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye behind bars, after he was convicted on "terrorism-related charges" in a kangaroo court - jump on the free speech ban wagon? Weren't you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the "unity rally" in Paris? Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, and David Cameron, who wants to ban non-violent "extremists" committed to the "overthrow of democracy" from appearing on television.

Then there are your readers. Will you have a word with them, please? According to a 2011 YouGov poll, 82% of voters backed the prosecution of protesters who set fire to poppies.

Apparently, it isn't just Muslims who get offended.

Riaz Haq said...

Oxford philosopher Brian Klug on "The moral hysteria of Je suis charlie": "Here is a thought experiment: Suppose that while the demonstrators stood solemnly at Place de la Republique the other night, holding up their pens and wearing their “je suis charlie” badges, a man stepped out in front brandishing a water pistol and wearing a badge that said “je suis cherif” (the first name of one of the two brothers who gunned down the Charlie Hebdo staff). Suppose he was carrying a placard with a cartoon depicting the editor of the magazine lying in a pool of blood, saying, “Well I’ll be a son of a gun!” or “You’ve really blown me away!” or some such witticism. How would the crowd have reacted? Would they have laughed? Would they have applauded this gesture as quintessentially French? Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended? And infuriated. And then what? Perhaps many of them would have denounced the offender, screaming imprecations at him. Some might have thrown their pens at him. One or two individuals — two brothers perhaps — might have raced towards him and (cheered on by the crowd) attacked him with their fists, smashing his head against the ground. All in the name of freedom of expression. He would have been lucky to get away with his life". - See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

From Haaretz: "Pencil and Hijab"

This week, looking at photos of the mass rally in Paris, I was impressed by the apparent show of shared purpose. But I wondered how many of the marchers using the symbol of a pencil to defend free speech would also defend the right to express oneself by wearing a hijab. This isn't a rhetorical question; I don't know the answer. I'd suggest, however, that acceptance of the woman in the pastel hijab as a full citizen of the republic, a Frenchwoman, is essential to the war on terror.

That phrase, "war on terror," is usually misused in too wide or too narrow a sense – too wide when it's a synonym for "conflict of civilizations"; too narrow when it refers only to tactical means of preventing attacks or pursuing perpetrators.

What both usages ignore is that modern terrorism is a political strategy born in Western revolutionary movements. It's a tool of the few to mobilize the many: Acts of extravagant violence are expected to spur the enemy – the regime, or colonial power, or post-colonial powers – to overreact, to harm the innocent. People whom the terrorists believe should be on their side will be unable to remain quiet or seek compromise. In the larger conflict that ensues, the terrorists expect victory.

Renamed jihad, terror takes on a religious garb but the goals of polarization and escalation remain. So responding to an act of terror by Islamic radicals as if Islam alone produces such violence, or as if all Muslims were automatic terror suspects, plays into the hands of the terrorists. When Israel reacts to Hamas terror in ways that hurt the entire Palestinian population, it serves the terrorists. Those people in France who react to the brutal attacks of the past week by voting for the radical right will grant the terrorists a victory.

On the other hand, to the extent that the somber crowds in Paris demonstrated the civic unity of a diverse France, they handed a strategic defeat to terror. Those Israeli commentators who dismissed the demonstration as a useless gesture were mistaken.

The signs saying "Je Suis Charlie" bore a more contradictory message. Correct: Nothing that the magazine Charlie Hebdo published could provide a shadow of justification for murder. To identify with the victims seems a natural way to insist on freedom of expression. Intentionally or not, though, the slogan "I am Charlie" also suggests identifying with the magazine's content.

Riaz Haq said...

So there are limits to free speech in France: Controversial French comedian Dieudonne has been arrested in the wake of the deadly attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and held on charges of apologizing for terrorism. He was one of 54 people held across the country; none has been linked to the attacks.

Dieudonne's alleged crime: writing "Je suis Charlie Coulibaly" [I am Charlie Coulibaly] on his Facebook account.

It's an apparent reference to "Je Suis Charlie," the message of solidarity that many people shared after the attack on the magazine that was targeted by Islamist extremists for its cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad. Coulibaly is the last name of Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four people at a Kosher market in Paris last week.

rjs said...

i agree; the censorship of Dieudonne is just as wrong as would be an attempt to silence Charlie Hebdo...such actions are giving rise to conspiracy theories; at least a few of my regular correspondents believe it was a false flag operation initiated by the US or France as excuse for clamping down harder on citizen's rights, and increasing surveillance....i dont think so myself, as the simplest explanation seems most logical to me; that it was carried out by a few deranged individuals who really didnt like what Charlie Hebdo was publishing...could they have been egged on the CIA or some other operative? maybe, but even that seems unlikely...

Riaz Haq said...

Elsa Ray, the spokeswoman of the Paris-based Collective Against Islamophobia in France, declined to react specifically to the new cartoon, but said that cartoons that lampooned Muhammad breached the limits of decency and insulted Muslims. “The freedom of expression may be guaranteed by the French Constitution, but there is a limit when it goes too far and turns into hatred, and stigmatization,” she said.

Moreover, she argued that the failure of French courts to clamp down on cartoons satirizing Muhammad was a double standard, given the robustness of action taken when Jews were insulted by cartoonists or artists, including Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a comedian, who in 2013 came under the scrutiny of courts, which banned a series of his shows.

Mr. M’bala M’bala has said it was a shame that a Jewish journalist had not been killed in the gas chambers. He has also come under fire for popularizing a gesture that strongly resembles a Nazi salute.

In a statement on his Facebook page after Sunday’s enormous unity march in Paris, Mr. M’bala M’bala expressed his admiration for Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman behind the killings at a kosher supermarket. “As far as I am concerned, I feel I am Charlie Coulibaly,” he wrote, alluding to the “I am Charlie” rallying cry. The Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday it had opened an investigation to determine if Mr. M’bala M’bala should be charged with promoting terrorism.

Mr. M’bala M’bala said he was being unfairly targeted.

French laws safeguard the freedom of speech, but there are many exceptions to the rule.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the National Assembly on Tuesday that “blasphemy” was not in French law and never would be. But he refused to draw any analogy between the satirists of Charlie Hebdo and Mr. M’bala M’bala.

“There is a fundamental difference,” he said.

Some cultural observers praised Charlie Hebdo for upholding Western values of liberal democracy, even at risk of violence. Flemming Rose, the former cultural editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, whose 2005 publication of cartoons lampooning Muhammad — including one with his turban depicted as a lit fuse — drew violent recriminations that reverberated across the world, recalled that the publication of the cartoons resulted in a fatwa against him by a radical cleric, threats against the newspaper and one of its cartoonists, and attacks against Danish embassies in the Middle East.

Riaz Haq said...

Facebook CEO on free speech:

"Most countries have laws restricting some form of speech or another," the CEO said. If Facebook were to let users post something that would be illegal in their country, would that result in more people being able to express themselves? The best course of action is often to remove the content, he suggested.

"If you break the law in a country, often times the country blocks the service entirely," Zuckerberg said.

He was responding to a question about whether Facebook would break the law in a country that curtails free speech in order to empower its users.

Facebook's philosophy, Zuckerberg said, is to give people as many tools as possible to express themselves. The company sometimes pushes back against government requests to block content, he said, but Facebook must respect local laws.

The issue of freedom of speech is front and center after the shootings last week in Paris at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

At the time, Zuckerberg aligned himself with those advocating for the freedom to publish, writing a post that ended with the hash tag "JeSuisCharlie."

His comments were quickly criticized by some, who noted that Facebook has its own, sometimes seemingly arbitrary rules about posts it will not display.

On Wednesday, a person from Pakistan in a question submitted online, asked Zuckerberg why he decided to speak out about the shootings. The attack is relevant to Facebook because it wants to connect the world and give everyone a voice, the CEO replied.

In the first half of 2014, Facebook blocked access to thousands of pieces of content, though mostly in India and Turkey, according to its latest transparency report. In India, for instance, local laws prohibit criticism of religion or the state, the company said.

Riaz Haq said...

"Free speech" claims out the window. #CNN fires Jim Clancy for tweets about Zionist propaganda. #Israel #CharlieHebdo

“The cartoons NEVER mocked the Prophet. They mocked how the COWARDS tried to distort his word. Pay attention,” Clancy tweeted on the day of the Paris attacks. Subsequently, he accused Israel and Zionist propaganda of being partially responsible for the attacks. As of yesterday, he had deleted his Twitter account.

A CNN spokesperson confirmed the news, saying, “Jim Clancy is no longer with CNN. We thank him for more than three decades of distinguished service, and wish him nothing but the best.”

rjs said...

here's an article that i am distributing today: The Lesson of Charlie Hebdo: The World Only Cares if You Kill White People

it closes: The propaganda onslaught created an awkward example of hypocrisy for world leaders who are always the worst killers of all. Murder is wrong when committed by individual gunmen with grudges and it is still wrong when it comes from a drone strike. A unity march should denounce human rights abuses, of which warfare is the worst. The next time 1 million gather to denounce terror, the anger should be directed at those people who carry it out the most.

rjs said...

looks like the way France has decided to defend free speech is to outlaw it:

France begins jailing people for ironic comments | The Electronic Intifada

France Becomes First Country In World To Ban Pro-Palestine Demonstrations | The Source

Riaz Haq said...

Dear 25,000 Anti-Islam Dresden Protesters and Pegida,

I hear you marched in your thousands against my religion. Last week, and last month. You marched against immigrants, foreigners, and anyone a shade darker. I will not draw comparisons to Nazi Germany. I will not call you bigots, I will not insult you, and I will not label you. But we do have a problem.

You marched with banners claiming your city is overcrowded with Muslims. Yet 0.1% of Dresden are Muslim. You marched claiming immigrants are cramming your schools and leaving your children to travel miles for an education. Yet 2.5% of Dresden are foreign-born.

You claim that Germany is being invaded by Muslims. Yet only 5% of Germans are Muslim.

You march "against the Islamization of the West". Yet within a century containing two World Wars, the decolonisation process, countless civil conflicts, foreign intervention, globalisation, and further displacement, Muslims remain a fringe minority in Europe. Less than 6%. A pretty lousy colonisation process, no?

You marched against refugees and asylum seekers, claiming Germany is their target for welfare and social security. Yet according to UNHCR, there are 51.2million refugees worldwide. Germany caters for less than 0.01% of them. Is that too much to ask? Is such a humanitarian obligation too large for the Refugee Convention 1951 your government ratified? Or is it actually punitive, for example, in comparison to Lebanon where every fourth person is a Syrian refugee?

Protesters, you are not alone. In my country, Britain, we have our own anti-immigration party. Ukip won their first seat in Clacton with nothing but anti-migrant rhetoric. Yet only 4.3% of Clacton are foreign-born. In a Parliamentary-based system, where each constituency elects a representative to voice their views, there is nothing Ukip can do for the people of Clacton.

Do you see a pattern? Perhaps I should explain. Your kind tend to establish themselves where their "problem" does not actually exist. Is this therefore an issue of negative perception? Fear of the unfamiliar? Intolerance in ignorance? Scapegoating an underclass? Media misinformation?

I will elaborate. London has a 36.2% foreign-born population. Relatively, that is fifteen times the population of foreigners in Dresden. A far greater diversity. Ukip poll the lowest in London compared to the rest of the country- in every demographic, foreign or not. London is a metropolis of brown, black, and white working side by side. We thrive. I saw an atheist today. Guess what? I did not try to convert him nor behead him for blasphemy; I helped him off the bus. He was 74 years old.

Riaz Haq said...

Millions of people demonstrated in condemnation of the atrocities, amplified by a chorus of horror under the banner "I am Charlie." There were eloquent pronouncements of outrage, captured well by the head of Israel's Labor Party and the main challenger for the upcoming elections, Isaac Herzog, who declared that "Terrorism is terrorism. There's no two ways about it," and that "All the nations that seek peace and freedom [face] an enormous challenge" from brutal violence.

The crimes also elicited a flood of commentary, inquiring into the roots of these shocking assaults in Islamic culture and exploring ways to counter the murderous wave of Islamic terrorism without sacrificing our values. The New York Times described the assault as a "clash of civilizations," but was corrected by Times columnist Anand Giridharadas, who tweeted that it was "Not & never a war of civilizations or between them. But a war FOR civilization against groups on the other side of that line. #CharlieHebdo."

The scene in Paris was described vividly in the New York Times by veteran Europe correspondent Steven Erlanger: "a day of sirens, helicopters in the air, frantic news bulletins; of police cordons and anxious crowds; of young children led away from schools to safety. It was a day, like the previous two, of blood and horror in and around Paris."

READ: Suspected ringleader of Belgian terror cell sought

Erlanger also quoted a surviving journalist who said that "Everything crashed. There was no way out. There was smoke everywhere. It was terrible. People were screaming. It was like a nightmare." Another reported a "huge detonation, and everything went completely dark." The scene, Erlanger reported, "was an increasingly familiar one of smashed glass, broken walls, twisted timbers, scorched paint and emotional devastation."

These last quotes, however -- as independent journalist David Peterson reminds us -- are not from January 2015. Rather, they are from a report by Erlanger on April 24 1999, which received far less attention. Erlanger was reporting on the NATO "missile attack on Serbian state television headquarters" that "knocked Radio Television Serbia off the air," killing 16 journalists.

"NATO and American officials defended the attack," Erlanger reported, "as an effort to undermine the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia." Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon told a briefing in Washington that "Serb TV is as much a part of Milosevic's murder machine as his military is," hence a legitimate target of attack.

There were no demonstrations or cries of outrage, no chants of "We are RTV," no inquiries into the roots of the attack in Christian culture and history. On the contrary, the attack on the press was lauded. The highly regarded U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, then envoy to Yugoslavia, described the successful attack on RTV as "an enormously important and, I think, positive development," a sentiment echoed by others.

There are many other events that call for no inquiry into western culture and history -- for example, the worst single terrorist atrocity in Europe in recent years, in July 2011, when Anders Breivik, a Christian ultra-Zionist extremist and Islamophobe, slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers.

READ: Why Islam forbids images of Mohammed

Also ignored in the "war against terrorism" is the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times -- Barack Obama's global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby. Other unfortunates are also not lacking, such as the 50 civilians reportedly killed in a U.S.-led bombing raid in Syria in December, which was barely reported.

Riaz Haq said...

It is not difficult to elaborate. These few examples illustrate a very general principle that is observed with impressive dedication and consistency: The more we can blame some crimes on enemies, the greater the outrage; the greater our responsibility for crimes -- and hence the more we can do to end them -- the less the concern, tending to oblivion or even denial.
Contrary to the eloquent pronouncements, it is not the case that "Terrorism is terrorism. There's no two ways about it." There definitely are two ways about it: theirs versus ours. And not just terrorism.

Riaz Haq said...

Fareed speaks with Doug Saunders, an international affairs columnist for 'The Globe and Mail' and the author of 'The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West?' about the question of whether there is widespread anger among Muslims in Europe. Watch the full interview on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Riaz Haq said...

Are all #Muslims responsible for the actions of a few radicals? #CharlieHebdo #Islamophobia

Watch this Daily Show video with Jon Stewart …

Riaz Haq said...

Less than two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo attacks — and the subsequent demands that followed for Muslims to denounce violence — it's got to be a tough time to produce a light-hearted podcast called "Good Muslim/Bad Muslim." But that's not what hosts Taz Ahmed and Zahra Noorbakhsh think.

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.
The two women argue it's actually a great time to show the lighter side of the Muslim community. And it's not like non-Muslims are short of questions.

"When people hear I drink and eat pork but still call myself Muslim, they saw me as someone who is quote un-quote 'assimilated' and referred to me as a 'good Muslim,'" Noorbakhsh says. "I thought that was hilarious, because both those things make me technically a 'bad Muslim.'"

Noorbakhsh's definitions of a "good" Muslim is pretty standard: someone who prays five times a day, fasts and observes Muslim holidays instead of discovering them through Twitter hashtags.

It wasn't that clear for Ahmed. She never drank or got involved with drugs as a kid, but she loved going to punk shows. "In my parents' eyes, that made me a terrible Muslim daughter," she says, "and I think that's kind of the contradiction: All my friends considered me the good kid in school and at home I was considered the bad kid."

The two women play up that ridiculousness in their podcast. For instance, Noorbakhsh's husband is an atheist, but he doesn't drink or eat meat “In a lot of ways, he’s more Muslim than I am,” Noorbakhsh says.

The other big goal for the podcast is to challenge American ideas about Muslim women. Ahmed and Noorbakhsh hope to create some positive change in the Muslim community — or at least provide space for a community that didn't exist when they were in their teens.

“We’ve been having these conversations on our own,” Ahmed. says “Others who are around us just laugh along with us, and we're hoping we can bring a lot more people along with us.”

Riaz Haq said...

In the case of Muslim immigrants in the West there is the additional factor of intensified political alienation and social marginalisation. They exist amongst a broader community that by and large equates their traditions and values with terrorist potential. In France the banlieues have no opportunity to integrate.

Other European countries have similar Muslim outcasts. The cartoons of Charlie Hebdo, the desecrations of the Holy Quran in Abu Ghraib and other “black holes”, and unending Western wars against their peoples — are all part of a profane global hegemony that forever robs them of their identity, history, voice, humanity and, indeed, innocence. Many inevitably drift towards a cathartic moment of nihilistic release. Predatory anthropologists and sociologists carve up what is left of them for their theses.

The dominant Western narrative is that the offending cartoons of Charlie Hebdo represent a tradition of free expression that is integral to the identity of France and the West as the home of free peoples. They fought and struggled over the centuries for the right to differ, deny, deride and even denigrate any authority, tradition, idea or person within the limits of the law as approved by their freely elected representatives. They will never compromise this “sacred” secular right.

Accordingly, Muslims who feel deeply wounded by disrespectful depictions of their most precious symbols may vigorously but peacefully protest (permission to do so is often refused) and, if citizens, may seek to bring about legislation constraining the publication and propagation of such materials (as the Jews have done with respect to the questioning of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.) But they may never take the law into their own hands, and most certainly not commit murder to assuage their outrage.

Otherwise, it is argued, more than 500 years of European political and ethical development including the humanitarian values of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment — which most Europeans see as their proudest achievement and greatest gift to humanity — would perish.

But many Muslim immigrants are convinced that while contemporary European societies are guilt-ridden over what they did to the Jews there is no such compunction for what they have done to the Muslims. For the West, the Jews are ultimately “one of us”. The Muslims, however, are “children of a lesser god” and politically a malignant lesion on the body-politic of the West.

There is, however, an alternative Muslim narrative that is closer to the original and timeless spirit of the message of Islam than the currently dominant narrative which is a later accretion. Many renowned Islamic jurists have advocated against the implementation of Ibn Taymia’s injunction on the basis of the Quranic Surah 6:108 which states “Revile not those unto whom they pray besides Allah lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance.” Another verse commanded the Prophet whenever he saw those who entered into “false discourses about Our communications” to “withdraw from them until they enter into some other discourse.” Sensible pragmatism, not wild extremism, represents religious virtue.

In light of these Quranic injunctions, should our faith, our love for the Prophet and ourselves be defined by our most virulent responses? Most certainly not! Truly, the Prophet came as a Mercy to all humanity. To those who would presume to insult his person the Holy Quran provides an answer that suffices: “lakum deenukum wa liya deen” (to you, your faith; to me, mine!) In Pashto there is a saying “if you spit at the sky you will spit on your face”. The Prophet is beyond the reach of any human impudence. The worlds of Islam and the West can still work together for a more inclusive and less unequal world. But we must be politically rid of dangerous charlatans.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of CBS 60 Minutes' "A New Kind of Terrorist" segment about Charlie Hebdo massacre:

Clarissa Ward: All three of these men (2 Kouachis brothers and Coulibaly) were very well-known to the police. How did this happen?

Xavier Raufer: And not only were they known to the police on the terrorist side, because they had the terrorist past but they were also known on the criminal side. Those are not 100 percent pure terrorists. Those are hybrids-- people, who at the same time, are hardened criminals. So, why did that happen? Is that the French legal system has a small box for a terrorist, has another small box for criminals and if you are at the same time one and the other, you fall into the crack in the middle and you are lost. This is basically what happened.

Clarissa Ward: Is this the new face of terrorism, this hybrid between jihad and petty criminals?

Xavier Raufer: Of course. Those are the only ones that are left. You know, jihad as an ideal has degenerated along the last 10 or 20 years. Fifteen, 20 years ago the bin Laden type. Now you have common criminals and thugs. One day they drink beer, the next day they smoke pot, the third day they are in a mosque. So, those are totally unstable people. They are human bombs, you know. They can explode any time.

Alain Chouet: No one in Yemen in al Qaeda gave to the Kouachi brothers any instruction to attack Charlie Hebdo such on such day, such time, such date.

Clarissa Ward: So what did they give them? What kind of instructions--

Alain Chouet: They had no instructions. It's their own initiative.

Clarissa Ward: Some people have suggested that security forces were so fixated on finding terrorists, kingpins, pa-- part of a larger network, that to focus on a petty criminal like Cherif Kouachi or Amedy Coulibaly, it seemed not very exciting-- not very important.

Alain Chouet: So when you are always catching little fishes which are forgotten after two or three years, then you try to catch a bigger one. And you put all your means on the possibility of catching a big one.

Clarissa Ward: But now it seems that little fish are the real danger.

Alain Chouet: Sure. The problem is ours. The problem is in our own society, on our own territory.

Amedy Coulibaly's life is a good illustration of that problem. Like Cherif he was a hybrid. He had a long rap sheet for armed robbery. And was trying to live the good life, gangster style. On beach vacations he posed for pictures with his girlfriend who was in a bikini. But look at this later photo, the couple is still together but the picture is radically different.

This is where it's believed his transformation took place, in an infamous French prison, Fleury-Merogis, where Coulibaly served time for robbery. It was here that he met Cherif Kouachi and where they both came under the influence of this man: Djamel Beghal an al Qaeda operative doing time for a conspiracy to blow up the U.S. embassy in Paris. Beghal was in solitary confinement but Coulibaly later described how the men would communicate by talking through an open window and even passing notes to each other. The dysfunctional French prison system had put the little fish in with a shark.

Clarissa Ward: Djamel Beghal was in solitary confinement, right? How, if you're in solitary confinement in prison, are you still able to radicalize two young men?

Alain Chouet: It's a joke. How do you want that to isolate someone when you have 50,000 cells and 65,000 prisoners?

After they were released from prison the three continued to mee. These surveillance photos show Cherif and Coulibaly visiting Beghal in the French countryside.

Xavier Raufer: Beghal, for them, is the guru type. They don't know much about Islam. So, they are like kids, saying, "Mommy, what if I do this? Mommy, what if I do that?" And who is Mommy? It's the guru--

Riaz Haq said...

Fear, Inc. 2.0: As Anti-Muslim Incidents Continue, Report Exposes Funders, Pundits of Islamophobia

As a federal inquiry begins in the killing of three Muslim students in North Carolina and an Islamic center in Houston, Texas, was intentionally set on fire Friday, we look at a new report that exposes the people who fund and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. The investigation by the Center for American Progress is called "Fear, Inc. 2.0, The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America," an update of a 2011 report. We are joined by the report’s co-author, Yasmine Taeb, Islamophobia project manager at the Center for American Progress.

Image Credit:

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: As a federal inquiry begins in the killing of three Muslim students in North Carolina and an Islamic center in Houston, Texas, burns down in a fire still under investigation, we turn now to a new report that exposes the people who fund and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. The investigation by the Center for American Progress is called, quote, "Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America."

NARRATOR: This is how the Islamophobia network operates. A group of foundations and donors provides the money—to date, more than $57 million. That money is given to a selection of tightly knit organizations that rely heavily on a handful of so-called experts that orchestrate misinformation about Islam. That misinformation then spreads to a larger network of activists, politicians, media and more, creating an echo chamber around the false idea that Islam is a violent religion.
MATT DUSS: And I think defining Islam writ large as a threat, as many in the Islamophobia network do, is simply wrong and will lead to bad policy.
NARRATOR: The Islamophobia network has real consequences for Muslim Americans. There’s been a nationwide push for laws targeting Muslims. In New York City, the NYPD conducted a spying program that covertly monitored and mapped the city’s Muslim communities. And in Boston, a Muslim doctor was assaulted after the Boston Marathon bombings.
AMY GOODMAN: This new report is an update on a 2011 investigation we covered here on Democracy Now!. For more, we’re joined from Washington, D.C., by Yasmine Taeb. She is co-author of "Fear, Inc. 2.0.: The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America" and the Islamophobia project manager at the Center for American Progress. Last week, she wrote an article headlined "Connecting the Dots: The North Carolina Murders and Anti-Muslim Hysteria." She is also an attorney specializing in national security.

Riaz Haq said...

In 1807, American readers were titillated by a potboiler entitled “History of the captivity and sufferings of Mrs. Maria Martin.” Its salacious story was summed up by its pithy subtitle: “Who was six years a slave in Algiers, two of which she was confined in a dark and dismal dungeon, loaded with irons for refusing to comply with the brutal request of a Turkish officer.”

We often forget that Americans have been thinking about Islam for centuries. In the republic’s early days, Muslims not only accounted for a large part of the enslaved labor force but also often appeared in stories as fearful figures in far-off places—dark hazards to American virtue. These old images help illuminate today’s American debates about Islam.

In the early republic, popular accounts of “Mohammedanism” were largely limited to tales of the capture and enslavement of Americans in Muslim lands. Narratives like Mrs. Maria Martin’s joined fears of North African pirates with titillating plots of kidnapping. They echoed the era’s best-selling accounts of colonists trapped by American Indians.

As the 19th century progressed, some abolitionists began to argue that Islam had things to teach Christianity. Slavery’s foes called slave owners in Muslim lands more fair than their U.S. counterparts.

In 1810, for instance, the New Hampshire Patriot ran a story called “Mohammedan Forbearance,” depicting a Muslim caliph as a model of faith and morality. Even after a slave spills a dish and scalds him, the caliph treats the slave well and later frees him, quoting the Quran to buttress his mercy. This example, the journal says, “might be usefully imitated by the professors of purer doctrines.”

Islam was deployed here as a setting for a morally instructive yarn that sought at once to enlighten and shame its audience. If a Muslim could heed his supposedly lesser religion’s call to free slaves and improve their lot, how could Christians—even if they disdained Islam—not do likewise?

The notion that slavery governed by Islam was more humane than slavery governed by the Gospel was no doubt a fantasy—but a durable one. Seven years later, the Connecticut Courant published a report called “Treatment of Negro Slaves in Morocco,” calling for Christians to learn moral virtues from Muslims. The abolitionists behind the report didn’t deny that many Muslims were slave owners and traders, but they argued that those who prayed to Allah often treated their captives better than did those who prayed to Christ. “The more intelligent [slaves] learn to read and write” and “acquire a partial knowledge of the Koran,” the Courant claimed of slaves in Islamic lands. Their “master exults in having converted an infidel”—and then, like the Patriot’s caliph, sets such slaves free.

Such kid-glove treatment of Islam in the press soon disappeared—due in part, perhaps, to widespread fears from an 1835 Muslim-led slave revolt in the Brazilian city of Bahia, which riveted Americans even outside the slave states. A Massachusetts report was typically breathless: “On the morning of the 25th of January the whole city of Bahia was thrown into a state of the greatest excitement in consequence of an insurrection of the slaves…It was by far the best planned and most extensive rising ever contemplated by those unfortunate beings.”

Later called the Malê rebellion—from the Yoruba word for Muslim—this slave uprising was a religious battle waged by Muslims against Christian slavery. Many of the dead were found wearing protective amulets made of leather pouches, containing slips of paper upon which were inscribed Quranic verses. It was Christian slaveholders’ worst nightmare—a potential holy war on every plantation....

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represents 150 victims of American drones and was twice denied entry to the U.S. to speak about them, told my Intercept colleague Ryan Devereaux how two of his child clients would likely react to Obama’s “apology” yesterday:

“Today, if Nabila or Zubair or many of the civilian victims, if they are watching on TV the president being so remorseful over the killing of a Westerner, what message is that taking?” The answer, he argued, is “that you do not matter, you are children of a lesser God, and I’m only going to mourn if a Westerner is killed.”

The British-Yemeni journalist Abubakr Al-Shamahi put it succinctly: “It makes me angry that non-Western civilian victims of drone strikes are not given the same recognition by the US administration.” The independent journalist Naheed Mustafa said she was “hugely irritated by the ‘drone strikes have killed good Westerners so now we know there are issues with drones’ stories.” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson this morning observed: “It is all too easy to ignore … the dubious morality of the whole enterprise — until the unfortunate victims happen to be Westerners. Only then does ‘collateral damage’ become big news and an occasion for public sorrow.”

This highlights the ugliest propaganda tactic on which the War on Terror centrally depends, one in which the U.S. media is fully complicit: American and Western victims of violence by Muslims are endlessly mourned, while Muslim victims of American and Western violence are completely disappeared.

When there is an attack by a Muslim on Westerners in Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Fort Hood or Boston, we are deluged with grief-inducing accounts of the victims. We learn their names and their extinguished life aspirations, see their pictures, hear from their grieving relatives, watch ceremonies honoring their lives and mourning their deaths, launch campaigns to memorialize them. Our side’s victims aren’t just humanized by our media, but are publicly grieved as martyrs.

I happened to be in Canada the week of the shooting at the Parliament in Ottawa, as well as a random attack on two Canadian soldiers days earlier in a parking lot in Southern Quebec, and there was non-stop media coverage of the victims, their families, their lives:

Riaz Haq said...

#CharlieHebdo cartoonist says no more cartoons of #ProphetMuhammad. Still #Islamophobia and #garlandshooting …

Civil Rights Era Southern Poverty Law Center lists #AFDI #PamGeller as hate group. #Islamophobia #garlandshooting

The apparent recent surge in popular anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States has been driven by a surprisingly small and, for the most part, closely knit cadre of activists. Their influence extends far beyond their limited numbers, in part because of an amenable legion of right-wing media personalities — and lately, politicians like U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who held controversial hearings into the radicalization of American Muslims this March —who are eager to promote them as impartial experts or grassroots leaders. Yet a close look at their rhetoric reveals how doggedly this group works to provoke and guide populist anger over what is seen as the threat posed by the 0.6% of Americans who are Muslim — an agenda that goes beyond reasonable concern about terrorism into the realm of demonization.

Of the 10 people profiled below, all but Bill French, Terry Jones and Debbie Schlussel regularly interact with others on the list. Most were selected for profiling primarily because of their association with activist organizations. People who only run websites or do commentary were omitted, with two exceptions: Schlussel, because she has influence as a frequent television talk-show guest, and John Joseph Jay, because he is on the board of Pamela Geller's Stop Islamization of America group. Three other activists, Steve Emerson, Daniel Pipes and Frank Gaffney, have interacted with many of the core group as well and also have offended many Muslims, but they are somewhat more moderate in their views of Muslims than those who are profiled below.

ORGANIZATIONS Executive director and co-founder (with Robert Spencer; see below) of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an umbrella group encompassing SIOA. Both are listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Runs the Atlas Shrugs blog.

CREDENTIALS Self-styled expert on Islam with no formal training in the field. Co-produced with Spencer the film "The Ground Zero Mosque: Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks," which was first screened at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference. Co-author with Spencer of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America (2010).

SUMMARY Geller has seized the role of the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and influential figurehead. Her strengths are panache and vivid rhetorical flourishes — not to mention stunts like posing for an anti-Muslim video in a bikini — but she also can be coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam. Geller does not pretend to be learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to SIOA partner Spencer. She is prone to publicizing preposterous claims, such as President Obama being the "love child" of Malcolm X, and once suggested that recent U.S. Supreme Court appointee Elena Kagen, who is Jewish, supports Nazi ideology. Geller has mingled with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists and defended Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. She is a self-avowed Zionist who is sharply critical of Jewish liberals.

Riaz Haq said...

Summary of "Free Speech for Sale"

The major points of the 1999 video which explores how granting corporations free speech has allowed them use huge financial resources to manipulate media and in effect have propaganda-like power to shape public interest:

Makes its asserstions via examples of hog farming in North Carolina and tobacco industry subverting legislation and media influence on the Telecommunications Act of 1996
Shows how push polls, pseudo polls with loaded questions -- not scientific polls -- are used to call attention to a special interest issue.

Then the special or corporate interest broadcasts a blizzard of TV advertisements (called "issue ads) oriented to their particular interest and aimed at shifting attention away from important elements of the issue and refocusing them on areas that will benefit the special or corporate interest.

Front groups are groups backed by powerful interests and having a nice-sounding name. The group creases the sense that there is a growing concern of the "issue."

Issue ads are advertisements, primarily on TV, that say they are about issues and lead viewer up to the point of saying vote for the candidate supporting the view of the special interest but not mentioning the person's name -- thus, they do not fall under election campaign contribution laws

Attorney Bert Neuborne -- asserts that unfairness comes from corporations being treated like people and being given some of the same rights. Corporations were given the same free speech rights as people by a 1978 Supreme Court decision. However, they have huge amounts of money to spend in the democratic process, thus unbalancing the fairness.

The issue ad campaigns saturate TV and cable (ex. tobacco companies) and target the propaganda message at the public -- and at public officials (by suggesting in ads that people phone the officials)

This influence changes the framework of the debate. It can make it acceptable for officials to vote against a bill regulating the special interest because the ads portray the bill as being for something evil and as just another excess of big government

Phone banks are used to make mass calls to people and describe the issue (ex., bill to regulate tobacco) in a false way and patch the people through to the officials' offices.

Video argues that the intent of the First Amendment is being subverted by these tactics and that the ideas of James Madison and the founders of the nation has been changed to mean freedom of speech for those who can afford to buy media access -- and that can be afforded only by large corporations.

Also media corporations themselves contribute to the problem by being oriented toward profit and having similar business interests, especially in gaining control of the digital spectrum (which is a public resource and could have been auctioned off for billions of dollars).

Example of the selling out of who got control of that spectrum via the Telecommunications Act of 1996 --because media did not cover it, the people never knew.

Other examples used included --
a liberal talk show personality challenged the ABC/Disney merger on his show run by ABC, which then cut his show; the shrinking ownership of media, such as ESPN and ABC, Disney; Fox, FX, etc; NBC and MSNBC and CNBC; of TCI, Comcast,QVC, linked to GE and Time Warner and Sony and PBS News Hour -- now being owned by AT&T; and a segment critical of media ownership on "Saturday Night Live" being cut from reruns of the episode because it "didn't work comedically."

"They (corporate media owners) have so many deals with each other...they are more of a club"

A tremendous danger to American society exists because of all this, the video concludes. However, it says this is not a dark conspiracy -- but simply willful people uniting to acquire wealth and power.[the same two forces cited by Bagdikian in Chapter 1]

Riaz Haq said...

Are there Echoes of the old Anti-Semitism in today’s #Islam-Hatred? By Anne-Ruth Wertheim. #Islamophobia …

Recently, the head of the Dutch national police Gerard Bouman warned against the poison that was seeping into his organisation: Muslims were continually being forced to prove their loyalty. Has Islamophobia really come this far? And can what is happening now be compared to pre-World War II anti-Semitism? Some people consider comparisons like this an attempt to subvert criticism of Islam. But what is actually wrong in taking stock of the similarities and differences?
Many of the prejudices against Jews that circulated in Europe back then definitely have striking similarities with those against Muslims today. Both minorities are perceived to be disloyal to the state they live in and to be trying to dominate the world as the puppets of faraway powers. A falsified text from the nineteenth century was unearthed to substantiate these allegations against Jews; the text states that a bunch of sinister men, the Elders of Zion, were pulling the strings on a world stage. A similar thing is happening now to Muslims. They are thought to be henchmen controlled by the long arm of their countries of origin, urging them to introduce sharia law all over the world. Their dual nationality supposedly serving as proof.
Another similarity is that the majority of prejudices are horrific and brimming with distrust. They mainly allude to the culture of the minority in question and contain all kinds of horrors which are then randomly pinned onto various religious texts. For centuries, Jews were reproached for cheering at the crusifiction of Jesus. And they were said to put children’s blood in their unleaven bread. Likewise, Muslims are purported to be inclined to chop off hands and throw homosexuals from towers.
There are also differences. Lust for money, which has always been part and parcel of the package of prejudices against Jews, is not said about Muslims. However, what matters is that exclusionary mechanisms are set in motion as prejudiced rumours are passed on and repeated. They stick in the minds of well-meaning people and gradually undermine their willingness to resist excluding the minority group. That is precisely how the Nazis ensured they encountered less and less resistance to their measures against Jews.
Prejudices and exclusion have been familiar to me since my childhood. In the colonial Dutch Indies, I belonged to the white ruling class which excluded the Indonesian population from important rights. This was justified with dismissive prejudices, some of them about Islam which was, after all, professed by the majority of Indonesians. During the Japanese occupation, it was our turn to experience what it meant to be excluded. We were interned, as were all whites, behind barbed wire and realised that there was no point in escaping: as our skin colour would betray us immediately outside the camp. And as if that were not bad enough, our own family which had a Jewish background, was separated within the camp; the Japanese – following the example of the Nazis with whom they were allied – separated Jewish and non-Jewish white prisoners.

As Jews were not recognisable enough in public, they were made to wear a yellow star. Muslims may only be recognisable if they wear the symbols of their religion. However, if it ever came to this, we should fear that anyone who looks like they may be Muslim will be in danger. Luckily we still have time to turn the tide for the best.

Riaz Haq said...

Via @NPR: In #ParisAttack's Wake, France Grapples With What It Means To Be French. #Islamophobia in #France

Interview of ex NY Times Paris Correspondent Elaine Sciolino on NPR Fresh Air

If there is a national religion in France it's laïcité, or secularism. ... France is so attached to this republican ideal that over a decade ago, it passed a law forbidding what is called "ostensible signs of religion."

It was basically aimed at Muslims, and it was basically aimed at girls who were wearing headscarves. It caused a complete disruption in the schools. I wrote about it at the time. There were young girls who shaved their heads so that they wouldn't be showing their hair. There was a young girl who started wearing wide bandanas to class, and one of the law-makers said, "We have to have a bandana ban."

It's gotten even worse in recent years, because a few years ago France passed a ban on wearing the full facial coverage by Muslim women in public space, and it was perceived as an anti-Islam move. Where if the French had been more clever they could've just said, "Look, anyone who covers his or her face in public, whether it's with a motorcycle helmet or a ski mask or a facial mask is breaking the law. We have to do this for security reasons; we have to be able to see the faces of people in public space, whether it's a bank or a post office or a governmental building." But Islam has been stigmatized and that is what is so dangerous and troubling.

On anti-Muslim, far right politicians in France

The far right has won in local elections in some small but crucial cities in the south of France. There are some absurd manifestations of some of the things they want to do and have done. For example, some of these mayors have said there are too many kebab shops in France, because kebabs, which are Turkish not even North African Muslim, are not French, so we need to put back our boulangeries and our little French cafes and ban kebab shops from expanding.

Recently there's been a controversy because some of the far right political leaders have called for forcible serving of pork in all public schools. Muslim and Jewish students cannot eat pork. So they're being told, "If you don't want to adhere to our secular republican ideal and what is part of the French cuisine, go to your own private schools."

These attacks were a gift to the far right, wrapped up in a bow before Christmas. This feeds perfectly into the French fear that there's no security on our borders, that immigrants are the enemy, that there aren't enough jobs for "normal" French people so that we have to prevent the other, the alien, the foreigner, from invading our country.

Riaz Haq said...

#US created Islamic extremism:Those blaming #Islam for #ISIS aided Osama bin Laden in ’80s. #ParisAttacks … via @Salon

History takes no prisoners. It shows, with absolute lucidity, that the Islamic extremism ravaging the world today was borne out of the Western foreign policy of yesteryear.

Gore Vidal famously referred to the USA as the United States of Amnesia. The late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai put it a little more delicately, quipping, “One of the delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.”

In order to understand the rise of militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida; in order to wrap our minds around their heinous, abominable attacks on civilians in the U.S., France, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Turkey, Yemen, Afghanistan and many, many more countries, we must rekindle this historical memory.

Where did violent Islamic extremism come from? In the wake of the horrific Paris attacks on Friday, November the 13, this is the question no one is asking — yet it is the most important one of all. If one doesn’t know why a problem emerged, if one cannot find its root, one will never be able to solve and uproot it.

Where did militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida come from? The answer is not as complicated as many make it out to be — but, to understand, we must delve into the history of the Cold War, the historical period lied about in the West perhaps more than any other.

The newspaper noted that bin Laden organized a militia of thousands of foreign fighters from throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and “supported them with weapons and his own construction equipment” in their fight against the USSR in the 1980s. “We beat the Soviet Union,” bin Laden boasted.

The mujahedin, this international Islamic extremist militia organized and headed by bin Laden, is what eventually morphed into both al-Qaida and the Taliban.

“When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written,” the Independent wrote, “Mr Bin Laden’s own contribution to the mujahedin… may turn out to be a turning point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism.”

Portraying bin Laden in a positive light, less than eight years before he would help mastermind the largest terrorist attack on American soil in decades, the British publication claimed that the “Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan.” In reality, bin Laden was setting the stages for what would be become al-Qaida.

Unheeded warnings
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was blessed with the power of prophecy, but cursed in that no one would ever heed her warnings. Eqbal Ahmad, the late political scientist, historian and expert in the study of terrorism, was a modern-day Cassandra.

In a speech at the University of Colorado, Boulder in October 1998, Ahmad warned that the U.S. policy in Afghanistan would backfire:

“In Islamic history, jihad as an international violent phenomenon had disappeared in the last 400 years, for all practical purposes. It was revived suddenly with American help in the 1980s. When the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan, Zia ul-Haq, the [U.S.-backed] military dictator of Pakistan, which borders on Afghanistan, saw an opportunity and launched a jihad there against godless communism. The U.S. saw a God-sent opportunity to mobilize one billion Muslims against what Reagan called the ‘Evil Empire.’

“Money started pouring in. CIA agents starting going all over the Muslim world recruiting people to fight in the great jihad. Bin Laden was one of the early prize recruits. He was not only an Arab. He was also a Saudi. He was not only a Saudi. He was also a multimillionaire, willing to put his own money into the matter. Bin Laden went around recruiting people for the jihad against communism.

Riaz Haq said...

‘Boycott French products’ launched over #Macron’s anti-#Islam comments. #boycottfranceproducts #CharlieHebdo #MacronGoneMad via @AJEnglish

Several Arab trade associations have announced the boycott of French products, protesting the recent comments made by President Emmanuel Macron on Islam.

Earlier this month, Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France.

He also described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.

His comments, in addition to his backing of satirical outlets publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, has led to a social media campaign calling for the boycott of French products from supermarkets in Arab countries and Turkey.

Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #ExceptGodsMessenger trended across countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

In Kuwait, the chairman and members of the board of directors of the Al-Naeem Cooperative Society decided to boycott all French products and to remove them from supermarket shelves.

The Dahiyat al-Thuhr association took the same step, saying: “Based on the position of French President Emmanuel Macron and his support for the offensive cartoons against our beloved prophet, we decided to remove all French products from the market and branches until further notice.”

In Qatar, the Wajbah Dairy company announced a boycott of French products and pledged to provide alternatives, according to their Twitter account.

Al Meera Consumer Goods Company, a Qatari joint stock company, announced on Twitter: “We have immediately withdrawn French products from our shelves until further notice.”

“We affirm that as a national company, we work according to a vision consistent with our true religion, our established customs and traditions, and in a way that serves our country and our faith and meets the aspirations of our customers.”

Qatar University also joined the campaign. Its administration has postponed a French Cultural Week event indefinitely, citing the “deliberate abuse of Islam and its symbols”

In a statement on Twitter, the university said any prejudice against Islamic belief, sanctities and symbols is “totally unacceptable, as these offences harm universal human values ​​and the highest moral principles that contemporary societies highly regard”.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) described Macron’s statements as “irresponsible”, and said they are aimed at spreading a culture of hatred among peoples.

“At a time when efforts must be directed towards promoting culture, tolerance and dialogue between cultures and religions, such rejected statements and calls for publishing insulting images of the Prophet (Muhammad) – may blessings and peace be upon him – are published,” said the council’s secretary-general, Nayef al-Hajraf.

Al-Hajraf called on world leaders, thinkers and opinion leaders to reject hate speech and contempt of religions and their symbols, and to respect the feelings of Muslims, instead of falling captive to Islamophobia.

In a statement, Kuwait’s foreign ministry warned against the support of abuses and discriminatory policies that link Islam to terrorism, saying it “represents a falsification of reality, insults the teachings of Islam, and offends the feelings of Muslims around the world”.

On Friday, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned what it said was France’s continued attack against Muslims by insulting religious symbols.

The secretariat of the Jeddah-based organisation said in a statement it is surprised at the official political rhetoric issued by some French officials that offend French-Islamic relations and fuels feelings of hatred for political party gains.

Riaz Haq said...

Will #American Ideas Tear #France Apart? Some of Its Leaders Think So! Willful #French blind spots in an increasingly diverse nation that still recoils at the mention of race, has yet to come to terms with its colonial past. #racism #Islamophobia

France has long laid claim to a national identity, based on a common culture, fundamental rights and core values like equality and liberty, rejecting diversity and multiculturalism. The French often see the United States as a fractious society at war with itself.

But far from being American, many of the leading thinkers behind theories on gender, race, post-colonialism and queer theory came from France — as well as the rest of Europe, South America, Africa and India, said Anne Garréta, a French writer who teaches literature at universities in France and at Duke.

“It’s an entire global world of ideas that circulates,’’ she said. “It just happens that campuses that are the most cosmopolitan and most globalized at this point in history are the American ones.’’

The French state does not compile racial statistics, which is illegal, describing it as part of its commitment to universalism and treating all citizens equally under the law. To many scholars on race, however, the reluctance is part of a long history of denying racism in France and the country’s slave-trading and colonial past.

Mass protests in France against police violence, inspired by the killing of George Floyd, challenged the official dismissal of race and systemic racism. A #MeToo generation of feminists confronted both male power and older feminists. A widespread crackdown following a series of Islamist attacks raised questions about France’s model of secularism and the integration of immigrants from its former colonies.


The publication this month of a book critical of racial studies by two veteran social scientists, Stéphane Beaud and Gérard Noiriel, fueled criticism from younger scholars — and has received extensive news coverage. Mr. Noiriel has said that race had become a “bulldozer’’ crushing other subjects, adding, in an email, that its academic research in France was questionable because race is not recognized by the government and merely “subjective data.’’

Some saw the reach of American identity politics and social science theories. Some center-right lawmakers pressed for a parliamentary investigation into “ideological excesses’’ at universities and singled out “guilty’’ scholars on Twitter.

Mr. Macron — who had shown little interest in these matters in the past but has been courting the right ahead of elections next year — jumped in last June, when he blamed universities for encouraging the “ethnicization of the social question’’ — amounting to “breaking the republic in two.’’

“I was pleasantly astonished,’’ said Nathalie Heinich, a sociologist who last month helped create an organization against “decolonialism and identity politics.’’ Made up of established figures, many retired, the group has issued warnings about American-inspired social theories in major publications like Le Point and Le Figaro.

For Ms. Heinich, last year’s developments came on top of activism that brought foreign disputes over cultural appropriation and blackface to French universities. At the Sorbonne, activists prevented the staging of a play by Aeschylus to protest the wearing of masks and dark makeup by white actors; elsewhere, some well-known speakers were disinvited following student pressure.

“It was a series of incidents that was extremely traumatic to our community and that all fell under what is called cancel culture,’’ Ms. Heinich said.