Monday, August 7, 2017

Pakistan Day: Freeing the Colonized Minds of the Elites

Pakistan achieved independence from the British colonial rule 70 years ago. However, the minds of most of Pakistan's elites remain colonized to this day.  This seems to be particularly true of the nation's western-educated "liberals" who dominate much of the intellectual discourse in the country. They continue to look at their fellow countrymen through the eyes of the Orientalists who served as tools for western colonization of Asia, Middle East and Africa. The work of these "native" Orientalists available in their books, op ed columns and other publications reflects their utter contempt for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Far from being constructive, these colonized minds promote lack of confidence in the ability of their fellow "natives" to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. The way out of it is to encourage more inquiry based learning and critical thinking.

Orientalism As Tool of Colonialism:

Dr. Edward Said (1935-2003), Palestine-born Columbia University professor and the author of "Orientalism",  described it as the ethnocentric study of non-Europeans by Europeans.  Dr. Said wrote that the Orientalists see the people of Asia, Africa and the Middle East as “gullible” and “devoid of energy and initiative.” European colonization led to the decline and destruction of the prosperity of every nation they ruled. India is a prime example of it. India was the world's largest economy producing over a quarter of the world's GDP when the British arrived. At the end of the British Raj, India's contribution was reduced to less than 2% of the world GDP.

Education to Colonize Minds:

In his "Prison Notebooks", Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist theorist and politician, says that a class can exercise its power not merely by the use of force but by an institutionalized system of moral and intellectual leadership that promotes certain ideas and beliefs favorable to it.  For Gramsci "cultural hegemony" is maintained through the consent of the dominated class which assures the intellectual and material supremacy of the dominant class.

In "Masks of Conquest", author Gauri Viswanathan says that the British curriculum was introduced in India to "mask" the economic exploitation of the colonized. Its main purpose was to colonize the minds of the natives to sustain colonial rule.

Cambridge Curriculum in Pakistan:

The colonial discourse of the superiority of English language and western education continues with a system of elite schools that uses Cambridge curriculum in Pakistan.

Over 270,000 Pakistani students from elite schools participated in Cambridge O-level and A-level International (CIE) exams in 2016, an increase of seven per cent over the prior year.

Cambridge IGCSE exams is also growing in popularity in Pakistan, with enrollment increasing by 16% from 10,364 in 2014-15 to 12,019 in 2015-16. Globally there has been 10% growth in entries across all Cambridge qualifications in 2016, including 11% growth in entries for Cambridge International A Levels and 8 per cent for Cambridge IGCSE, according to Express Tribune newspaper.

The United Kingdom remains the top source of international education for Pakistanis.  46,640 students, the largest number of Pakistani students receiving international education anywhere, are doing so at Pakistani universities in joint degree programs established with British universities, according to UK Council for International Student Affairs.

At the higher education level, the number of students enrolled in British-Pakistani joint degree programs in Pakistan (46,640) makes it the fourth largest effort behind Malaysia (78,850), China (64,560) and Singapore (49,970).

Teach Critical Thinking:

Pakistani educators need to see the western colonial influences and their detrimental effects on the minds of youngsters. They need to improve learning by helping students learn to think for themselves critically. Such reforms will require students to ask more questions and to find answers for themselves through their own research rather than taking the words of their textbook authors and teachers as the ultimate truth.

Summary: 

The minds of most of Pakistan's elite remain colonized 70 years after the British rule of Pakistan ended in 1947. They uncritically accept all things western. A quick scan of Pakistan's English media shows the disdain the nation's western educated elites have for their fellow countryman.  Far from being constructive, they promote lack of confidence in their fellow "natives" ability to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness.   Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Unless these colonized minds are freed, it will be difficult for the people of Pakistan to believe in themselves, have the confidence in their capabilities and develop the national pride to lay the foundation of a bright future. The best way to help free these colonized minds is through curriculum reform that helps build real critical thinking.

Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN2Owcwq6_M




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Alam vs Hoodbhoy

Inquiry Based Learning

Dr. Ata ur Rehman Defends Higher Education Reform

Pakistan's Rising College Enrollment Rates

Pakistan Beat BRICs in Highly Cited Research Papers

Launch of "Eating Grass: Pakistan's Nuclear Program"

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Impact of Industrial Revolution

Hindutva: Legacy of British Raj


60 comments:

Kanza A. said...

Colonized minds: Are we English Pakistanis?


http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/8623/colonized-minds-are-we-english-pakistanis/

It only took me the journey from the airport to my dormitory to form my first opinion of the Japanese. They are extremely helpful and kind. Even if they are running late and you stop them to ask directions they will make sure that you can reach your destination.

I could not speak or write Japanese when I arrived and felt handicapped. I could not read anything – street signs, restaurant menus or shop names. Even the English words were written in Katakana, a script Japanese use to write foreign words. I realized that to live in Japan, I would have to polish my Japanese speaking and reading skills. I also felt that my home university should have the Japanese language as an elective so that students could learn Japanese before coming to Japan in future.

Back home, I always propagated the use of our own language (be it Urdu, or one of the provincial or regional languages) but a few days in Tokyo made me a total pro on the subject.

In one of my classes, I met a girl from India, Lucknow. After getting to know I was a ‘Japanese Level 1’ student, she suggested a website which could be of immense help for me. The following is the mail I got from her later that day:

Dear Azeemi,

Here is the link for the Japanese lessons: http://www.nhk.or.jp/lesson/urdu/index.html. If you have a Mac, an iPod or aniTouch, they are also available as podcasts from the iTunes store.

Regards.

The website was in Urdu. She was clearly oblivious of the fact that as far as we have sites in English, we don’t need Urdu ones.

On another day I was extremely touched when in one of my Japanese classes, my instructor gave me a printed paper. It had text in Japanese and Urdu, as seen in the picture. I again wondered if he knew that when we are taught languages in Pakistan, most of the times, its taught in English. Never would I expect a language instructor in Pakistan to hand me anything like the paper he gave me.

Lets compare this scenario with what language/communication difficulties an exchange student to Pakistan might face. None – as long as they know how to speak in English.

One of my friends, an American who has been living in Pakistan for seven years, does not know how to read Urdu. I was shocked when I first discovered this fact. Baffled, I asked:

”Why don’t you know how to read Urdu? Why don’t you learn?”

”Is there a need?” was the question I got in reply.

And although I hate to admit, I had to agree with her. Who needs to learn how to read Urdu? Even the people at the lowest level of the social hierarchy say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘shukria‘, and use numerous English words in daily speech. They feel dominated if you converse in English with them.

If asked to speak in Urdu without employing a single word from English, many students of some elite universities and schools will miserably fail. Even worse is the fact that they will ‘laugh it off’. For them, apparently, speaking in English is related to having a higher self esteem.

How many times have people with fluent English not laughed at someone without the same proficiency level?

How many times have we not seen a person constantly struggling to converse in English?

How many of us have found ourselves talking to foreign visitors (British or American mainly) entirely in English instead of trying to teach them Urdu?

These behaviours denote much more than what we think they do.

They signify the ‘colonization of the mind’ – a concept many writers have talked about, in vain.

The ‘colonization of the mind’ theory was once more proved true by a friend here in Tokyo. I was called an ‘English Pakistani’ once he saw the wall posts on Facebook by my Pakistani friends, all of which were of course in English.

I hated to be called that. I was deeply ashamed that I, a Pakistani patriot, was not recognized for her true identity but had become accustomed to living in a borrowed one – English.

Riaz Haq said...

British Colonialism: Alive in the Minds of Indian Elitists
Mad British Colonialist Legacy
by Andre Vltchek / May 1st, 2015

http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/05/british-colonialism-alive-in-the-minds-of-indian-elitists/


Not everyone in India is outraged by former crimes of the British Empire. Some want to forget and to “move on”, especially those closely linked to the establishment; to the new corporate and pro-Western India, where education is being privatized, mass media controlled by big business interests, and progressive ideologies buried under unsavory layers of greed.

At the grounds of Jallianwala Bagh, Anand P. Mishra, Professor at O. P. Jindal Global University, Haryana, spreads his arms: “This happened almost 100 years ago and I don’t hold any grudges towards British, anymore.”

--------

The British Empire was actually based on enforcing full submission and obedience on its local subjects, in all corners of the world; it was based on fear and terror, on disinformation, propaganda, supremacist concepts, and on shameless collaboration of the local “elites”. “Law and order” was maintained by using torture and extra-judiciary executions, “divide and rule” strategies, and by building countless prisons and concentration camps.

To kill 1,000 or more “niggers,” to borrow from the colorful, racist dictionary of Lloyd George, who was serving as British Prime Minister between 1916 and 1922, was never something that Western empires would feel ashamed of. For centuries, the British Kingdom was murdering merrily, all over Africa and the Middle East, as well as in the Punjab, Kerala, Gujarat, in fact all over the Sub-Continent. In London the acts of smashing unruly nations were considered as something “normal”, even praiseworthy. Commanders in charge of slaughtering thousands of people in the colonies were promoted, not demoted, and their statues have been decorating countless squares and government buildings.

The British Empire has been above the law. All rights to punish “locals” were reserved. But British citizens were almost never punished for their horrendous crimes committed in foreign lands.

When the Nazis grabbed power in Germany, they immediately began enjoying a dedicating following from the elites in the United Kingdom. It is because British colonialism and German Nazism were in essence not too different from each other.

Today’s Western Empire is clearly following its predecessor. Not much has changed. Technology improved, that is about all.

*****
Standing at the monument of colonial carnage in (Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar) Punjab, I recalled dozens of horrific crimes of the British Empire, committed all over the world:
I thought about those concentration camps in Africa, and about the stations where slaves who were first hunted down like animals were shackled and beaten, then put on boats and forced to undergo voyages to the “new world” – voyages that most of them never managed to survive. I thought about murder, torture, flogging, raping women and men, destruction of entire countries, tribes and families. It is all connected: colonialism, present-day riots in Baltimore, horrid ruins of Africa.

In Kenya, near Voi, I was shown a British prison for resistance cadres, which was surrounded by wilderness and dangerous animals. This is where the leaders of local rebellions were jailed, tortured and exterminated.

In Uganda, I was told stories about how British colonizers used to humiliate local people and break their pride: in the villages, they would hunt down the tallest and the strongest man; they would shackled him, beat him up, and then the British officer would rape him, sodomize him in public, so there would be no doubts left of who was in charge.

----
The Brits triggered countless famines all over India, killing dozens of millions. To them, Indian people were not humans. When Churchill was begged to send food to Bengal that was ravished by famine in 1943, he replied that it was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits” and that the plague was “merrily” culling the population. At least 3 million died.

Riaz Haq said...

What Is a Colonized Mind?
Peter d'Errico • December 12, 2011
England was once so proud of its colonial regime that it boasted, “The sun never sets on the British empire.” Today, colonialism is a bad word. It is fashionable to say we live in a ‘post-colonial’ world.

The truth is the world continues to involve relations of domination and exploitation, under new names: “globalization,” for example.

None of this is news to observers of history and contemporary affairs. The “Occupy” movement, whatever else it may be, is evidence of widespread awareness that 1 percent of the population dominates 99 percent, an arrangement similar to colonialism except it happens within as well as between nations.

The interesting—and complicated—thing about colonialism is that it encompasses not just politics and economics, but consciousness. Critical theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire have pointed this out.

Fanon, a black man born in the French colony of Martinique, became a world-renowned psychoanalyst and philosopher, working in Algeria. He wrote, “For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity” [The Wretched of the Earth].

Fanon’s study of psychology and sociology led him to the further conclusion that colonized people perpetuate their condition by striving to emulate the culture and ideas of their oppressors. He wrote, “Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well.”

Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator, is best known for his development of what might be called ‘liberation literacy,’ teaching literacy and political awareness together. Freire agreed with Fanon, “The oppressed want at any cost to resemble the oppressors.” He said, “the oppressed must be their own example.” Unlike Fanon, he argued that oppressors also could (and those who wanted to end colonialism must) change their own thinking: “those who authentically commit themselves to the people must re-examine themselves constantly” [Pedagogy of the Oppressed].

How do we apply these thoughts to the situation of American Indians today? The problems start with the notion that the United States is not a colonial power, or that the colonial era of American history is over. These notions are sometimes stated openly, more often concealed as assumptions behind our rhetoric.

When an Indian speaks about “our country,” what country is being talked about? Is it an Indigenous Nation or the United States? When an Indian refers to “my President,” which president is being discussed, the president of an Indigenous Nation or the president of the U.S.? These kinds of statements need to be examined to determine whether the speaker is asserting something that supports or undermines consciousness of Indigenous sovereignty.

The 1924 Indian Citizenship Act declared, “all non-citizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States…are…citizens.” Reaction among Indians was diverse, some welcoming the chance to more closely assimilate and others wary of the loss of Indigenous sovereignty. Prior citizenship acts had been tied to allotment, for example. Non-Indians were also divided in their views, some saying citizenship would “redeem… the tribes,” and others saying citizenship would empower Indians.

--

Patrice Lumumba, the first indigenous leader of the Republic of the Congo, called for mental decolonization in his speech to the 1960 Pan-African Congress, saying we have to “rediscover our most intimate selves and rid ourselves of mental attitudes and complexes and habits that colonization … trapped us in for centuries.” Lumumba thought it possible to work together with the former Belgian oppressors; for their part, they saw him as an enemy and facilitated his assassination.


https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/opinions/what-is-a-colonized-mind/

Kaptaan said...

Mr Haq I mostly agree with your posts. But this I can't.

Our elite is oriental to the core but with a veneer of colonization. Who do they act like? I don't see them acting likinf British ruling class? I don't see a Jeremy Corbyn or a Labour Party or even a Cameron of the Tory party in them. I see oriental Moghul and eastern autocracy. Simple as that.

Riaz Haq said...

Kaptaan: " I don't see them acting likinf British ruling class? I don't see a Jeremy Corbyn or a Labour Party or even a Cameron of the Tory party in them. I see oriental Moghul and eastern autocracy. Simple as that."

British prime ministers rule their country and their people as their own. Pakistani elite with colonized minds rules Pakistan as though it were their colony to be looted like the colonial rulers did. That's the crucial difference.

Mughals did not loot their people. That's the reason India remained the world's largest economy producing over a quarter of the world's GDP before the Brits arrived. Brits looted India's resources and impoverished it so much that India contributed less than 2% of world GDP in 1947.

And Pakistan's liberal intellectual elite look at their fellow countrymen with the same contempt as the colonial ruling class did. That, again, is the big difference.

Ram Rahim said...

This is one topic indians and pakistanis can unite. In social media lot of indians are expressing that india can aspire to develop until we stop educating ourselves in english. In their words "no country has progressed while teaching education in a foreign language".

while this may be true, fact is, in 70s yrs India did not bother to "upgrade" languages to teaching level , specially in medicine and engineering. Urdu is great for poetry, not for medicine.

Anonymous said...

"Mughals did not loot their people. That's the reason India remained the world's largest economy producing over a quarter of the world's GDP before the Brits arrived. Brits looted India's resources and impoverished it so much that India contributed less than 2% of world GDP in 1947. "

No this is too simplistic. real reason India lost out was the advent of industrial age. Same thing happened in China too, around the same time.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "No this is too simplistic. real reason India lost out was the advent of industrial age. Same thing happened in China too, around the same time. "

Here's a review of Sashi Tharoor's "Inglorious Empire: what the British did to India" that deals with this subject:

Tharoor sets out energetically, bluntly and hurriedly the litany of exploitation and theft, and the support given to the East India Company. This was before the Government of India Act of 1858 led the British crown to assume direct control. The company had a private army of 260,000 at the start of the 19th century, and the champions of the British industrial revolution plundered India’s thriving manufacturing industries.
Under British rule India’s share of world manufacturing exports fell from 27 per cent to 2 per cent as East India employees made colossal fortunes. The marquess of Salisbury, secretary of state for India in the 1870s, remarked that “India is to be bled”, and by the end of the 19th century it was Britain’s biggest source of revenue.
“To stop is dangerous; to recede ruin” was the logic, as enunciated early by Robert Clive, commander in chief of British India in the mid-18th century. The Indian shipping industry was destroyed and Indian currency manipulated while tariffs and regulations were skewed to favour British industry.

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/inglorious-empire-what-the-british-did-to-india-1.2981299

Riaz Haq said...

RR: "while this may be true, fact is, in 70s yrs India did not bother to "upgrade" languages to teaching level , specially in medicine and engineering. Urdu is great for poetry, not for medicine."

The issue is early education and the curriculum at primary and secondary level, not STEM subjects in colleges and universities.

UNESCO has encouraged mother tongue instruction in primary education since 1953 (UNESCO, 1953) and UNESCO highlights the advantages of mother tongue education right from the start: children are more likely to enroll and succeed in school (Kosonen, 2005); parents are more likely to communicate with teachers and participate in their children’s learning (Benson, 2002); girls and rural children with less exposure to a dominant language stay in school longer and repeat grades less often (Hovens, 2002; UNESCO Bangkok, 2005); and children in multilingual education tend to develop better thinking skills compared to their monolingual peers (e.g., Bialystok, 2001; Cummins, 2000; King & Mackey, 2007).

Some educators argue that only those countries where the student’s first language is the language of instruction are likely to achieve the goals of Education for All. Research also suggests that engaging marginalized children in school through mother-tongue based, multilingual education (MTB-MLE) is a successful model (Benson & Kosonen, 2013; Yiakoumetti, 2012). We are beginning to get answers to some key questions: Under what circumstances and with what resources can education in the mother-tongue combined with multilingual education be an effective approach whereby children become proficient in their home language while laying the foundation for learning in additional languages? What are the costs and benefits of alternative approaches directed at the individual, family, community, school, region, and nation? What are meaningful yet efficient ways to measure costs and benefits? What are the implications of MTB-MLE for recruiting, educating, and mentoring teachers and teacher assistants and for creating and evaluating curricula in diverse language classrooms? What are the contributions of family and community in formal and non-formal MTB-MLE, and how can these be measured?


http://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/children-learn-better-their-mother-tongue

Rizwan said...

Unfortunately expatriates like us are a product of this system. At one time we thought like that too. It is only by coming to the West and seeing it first hand have we come to realize its strengths and weaknesses, and what it did to us. So we have come full circle, while those in Pakistan are still "half circle" so to speak. Only the right type of education can change this consciousness, but who is there to develop and implement the policies and develop the curricula that will bring about the desired change? Thank you for at making people aware of this problem. It's a start.

Riaz Haq said...

Rizwan: "It is only by coming to the West and seeing it first hand have we come to realize its strengths and weaknesses, and what it did to us. So we have come full circle, while those in Pakistan are still "half circle" so to speak."

I know many Pakistani intellectuals with advanced degrees from US and Europe who have lived in the West for years but still have totally colonized minds. The key reason in my view is the lack of critical thinking which needs to be inculcated in education at primary and secondary levels.

Riaz Haq said...

Split #India: #Hindu Nationalist #RSS did not support #Gandhi's #QuitIndiaMovement Against #British Raj

https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170810/jsp/frontpage/story_166526.jsp

The following are excerpts from some of the speeches that stood out:

Elephant in the room

The role the RSS did not play or did play in the freedom movement hung heavy.

Narendra Modi: Every individual in the country had become part of the Quit India Movement. Inspired by Gandhiji's words, the whole country was moving forward....

Sonia Gandhi: When we remember freedom fighters, we should not forget there were outfits and people in that period who opposed the Quit India Movement. These elements had no role in the freedom struggle.

(Murmurs of disapproval swept through the treasury benches in the Lok Sabha, and BJP member Kirron Kher was heard saying: "Sad, sad.... This is the tragedy of Parliament."Although BJP members usually do not miss any chance to register their loyalty to the parent, none got up to contest Sonia.)

Whither India?

Modi: In 1942, the clarion call was "karenge ya marenge (do or die)". Today, it is "karenge aur kar ke rahenge (we will do and surely do)". The country needs the spirit of the Quit India Movement to develop into an India of the dreams of the freedom fighters in 2022. Corruption, poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition are the greatest challenges that India now needs to overcome and we should rise above political considerations and resolve to bring about a positive change.

(The Prime Minister divided India's pre-independence journey in two phases from 1857 to 1941 and 1942 to 1947. He said the first phase was incremental but the second one - 1942-47 - was "transformative and delivered the objective". He said the country needed the same spirit in its journey from 2017 to 2022.)




Sonia: Fear is replacing freedom.... Isn't it true that there is an attempt to destroy the foundations of our democracy which rests on freedom of thought and faith, equality and social justice? We can't let the idea of India be a prisoner of a narrow, divisive and communal ideology.... It appears our secular, democratic and liberal values are in peril. Space for debate, disagreement and dissent is shrinking.

Kanimozhi: The only real freedom (to expect) is freedom from fear.... If our women, if our people, if our Dalits, if the underprivileged, the backward communities and the minorities are not free from fear of the future, then there is nothing to feel proud of.

(Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu, recalled freedom fighters from her state who took part in the Quit India Movement without knowing Hindi. Many were non-Hindus who ate what they wanted.) Are they in any way less of Indians? Are they less than anybody else? But today, if I don't speak Hindi, people think I am less of an Indian. If I don't eat what some people think is right, or if I am an atheist, I am not an Indian. Why have we become this?

Whether it is a rape, whether it is stalking, whether it is an acid attack, it is always the woman who is being questioned. Why? Are we not ashamed of ourselves? We should be ashamed of even questioning why the woman is out.

Sugata Bose: Modiji says that the next five years will be transformative. We sometimes wonder is it transformative because the three top constitutional posts are held by people belonging to the same ideology? We cannot but express some concern. If he truly wants all evils to quit India by 2022, including communalism, in the pejorative sense of that word, we hope that he will take stronger action against those who are spreading the poison of hatred and killing human beings in the name of religion.

(Amid thumping of desks by Opposition members) I appeal to the Prime Minister to stop the engines of coercion in their tracks. Faith in India's destiny rescues us from debilitating pessimism in the face of ferocious assaults on the expression of rational difference.

Riaz Haq said...

Sense of unease among Muslims: Says retiring #Muslim VP of #India Hamid Ansari. #Modi #Lynchistan http://toi.in/5SxO0a via @timesofindia

In his last interview before demitting the office of India's vice-president, Hamid Ansari has said that Muslims in the country were experiencing "a feeling of unease".

"A sense of insecurity is creeping in" as a result of the dominant mood created by some and the resultant intolerance and vigilantism, he added. Ansari also said he shared the view of many that intolerance was growing. In hard-hitting remarks during an interview to Rajya Sabha TV, he ascribed the spate of vigilante violence, mob lynchings, beef bans and "Ghar Wapsi" campaigns to a "breakdown of Indian values" and to the "breakdown of the ability of the authorities" to enforce the law. "...and overall, the very fact that (the) Indianness of any citizen (is) being questioned is a disturbing thought," Ansari said.




Asked in an interview why he thought Indian values were "suddenly" breaking down, Vice-President Hamid Ansari answered: "Because we are a plural society that for centuries, not for 70 years, has lived in a certain ambience of acceptance."
He said this acceptance was "under threat". "This propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is unnecessary. I am an Indian and that is it," he told Rajya Sabha TV.

On Thursday, Ansari demits an office that only S Radhakrishnan had occupied as long: 10 years.




Asked specifically about his speech on Sunday in which he spoke about a nationalism with cultural commitments at its core being perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism, and whether the remark was about the mood of the country in 2017, he replied: "Oh, absolutely." And he agreed he had felt a personal need to underline that this need to keep proving one's patriotism, and the intolerance it made for, was unhealthy: "Yes. And I am not the only one in the country; a great many people feel the same way." Asked if he had shared these apprehensions with the PM or the government, he replied: "Yes... But what passes between the Vice-President and the PM in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged information."

Riaz Haq said...

Sense of unease among Muslims: Says retiring #Muslim VP of #India Hamid Ansari. #Modi #Lynchistan http://toi.in/5SxO0a via @timesofindia

In his last interview before demitting the office of India's vice-president, Hamid Ansari has said that Muslims in the country were experiencing "a feeling of unease".

"A sense of insecurity is creeping in" as a result of the dominant mood created by some and the resultant intolerance and vigilantism, he added. Ansari also said he shared the view of many that intolerance was growing. In hard-hitting remarks during an interview to Rajya Sabha TV, he ascribed the spate of vigilante violence, mob lynchings, beef bans and "Ghar Wapsi" campaigns to a "breakdown of Indian values" and to the "breakdown of the ability of the authorities" to enforce the law. "...and overall, the very fact that (the) Indianness of any citizen (is) being questioned is a disturbing thought," Ansari said.




Asked in an interview why he thought Indian values were "suddenly" breaking down, Vice-President Hamid Ansari answered: "Because we are a plural society that for centuries, not for 70 years, has lived in a certain ambience of acceptance."
He said this acceptance was "under threat". "This propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is unnecessary. I am an Indian and that is it," he told Rajya Sabha TV.

On Thursday, Ansari demits an office that only S Radhakrishnan had occupied as long: 10 years.




Asked specifically about his speech on Sunday in which he spoke about a nationalism with cultural commitments at its core being perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism, and whether the remark was about the mood of the country in 2017, he replied: "Oh, absolutely." And he agreed he had felt a personal need to underline that this need to keep proving one's patriotism, and the intolerance it made for, was unhealthy: "Yes. And I am not the only one in the country; a great many people feel the same way." Asked if he had shared these apprehensions with the PM or the government, he replied: "Yes... But what passes between the Vice-President and the PM in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged information."

Riaz Haq said...

The former Chairman of the Law Commission on how enforced cultural nationalism will harm India in the long run

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/today-we-do-not-talk-of-inclusive-nationalism/article19452167.ece/amp/


Former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court Ajit Prakash Shah was hailed as the co-architect of the landmark judgment in 2009 that decriminalised homosexuality. Justice Shah, also a former Chairman of the Law Commission, may have retired but he continues to speak openly on a range of issues, including free speech. In this interview, he discusses the current debate on the right to privacy, the Supreme Court judgment on the national anthem, and “enforced cultural nationalism”. Excerpts:

In your M.N. Roy Memorial Lecture on ‘Free Speech, Nationalism and Sedition’ this year, you began with his words and said Roy’s views on nationalism and its attendant dangers still resonate today. What worries you?

---
Today, in India, we do not talk of inclusive nationalism. What we have is a situation of enforced cultural nationalism. It is a culture of hate that is being perpetrated in the name of nationalism. There are repeated lynchings in the name of cow protection — from Mohammad Akhlaq to Junaid Khan, it is all very disturbing, to say the least. There is an invasion of university space. Independent thinking is being killed. We seem to have forgotten the all-inclusive nationalism from half a century ago, and we have inverted it into something that is undesirable.

As Tagore said, when the nation becomes powerful at the cost of the harmony of social life, that day is an evil day for humanity. What do we have today instead? People speak of removing the thoughts of Tagore from textbooks!

You posed a question on the defining characteristic of a nation, whether it’s the territorial boundary or the people. What does nation mean to you?

The defining characteristic of a nation changes with time, situation and context. About 150 years ago, countries were still isolated from each other, and an identity based on geography was necessary to bring about order in chaos. But in a world that is increasingly international, where identities of ordinary people have intermingled so greatly that they are no longer distinguishable from one another, it becomes hard to defend the idea of a nation based only on territorial boundary. Indeed, as M.N. Roy put it, the idea may even well be regarded as an “antiquated cult”. If we allow territorial identity to overwhelm our narrative, we may regress into a situation where people become blinded by a nationality driven by irrationality, which in turn may have extreme consequences. Sadly, this is the situation we seem to have found ourselves in today.

Connected to this is the trend of manufacturing affection for the state and government — be it the Prime Minister’s office, the Army, the police, to call them to question is to spread disaffection against the state. And linked to that is: what prevents us from striking down the law on sedition?

We are in a situation today where any criticism of certain offices is branded as anti-national and sedition. Whether it is any wrongdoing, fake encounters in the Northeast, even speaking about these is enough to label you seditious. We are also acquiring a reputation of being singularly humourless, where even a parody is not tolerated!

In India, we have had a long, celebrated legal history of fighting against the law of sedition. Gandhi, Tilak and their ilk have all been part of building the jurisprudence around this. The [Supreme] Court agrees that mere criticism is not sedition. But that does not prevent prosecutions from taking place. Any dissent is taken as sedition. This tendency is very disturbing.

Riaz Haq said...

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
Making ‘O’ levels Pakistan Studies textbooks available to all

By Dr Madiha Afzal Published: February 2, 2016


https://tribune.com.pk/story/1038923/making-o-levels-pakistan-studies-textbooks-available-to-all/

Those excellent texts are the ‘O’ levels Pakistan Studies textbooks — the required one written by Nigel Kelly, and a secondary one by Farooq Naseem Bajwa. I recently reviewed these, and my latest research paper compares these books with the Matric textbooks in detail. There are big differences between the two sets of books — probably not a surprise to many. I list some of them here.

First, the Pakistan ideology, that central premise and starting point of the Matric textbooks — that the sole basis of Pakistan is Islam — is nowhere to be found in the ‘O’ levels books. This ideology was not born with Pakistan, but was a concept constructed by the Jamaat-e-Islami and introduced into textbooks in the 1970s and early 1980s via a University Grants Commission directive.

Two, the evolving historical and political story of Partition is told in the ‘O’ levels books rather than the linear narrative presented in the Matric books. The Cambridge texts describe periods of Hindu-Muslim cooperation. Kelly mentions Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s initial pronouncements about Hindus and Muslims being one nation, and also mentions Jinnah’s initial opposition to Partition before explaining how events changed their minds.

Third, the ‘O’ levels book shows the positive side of India and Hindus (along with the negatives). Upon Partition, when India withheld the cash it owed Pakistan, “Gandhi was determined that the division of assets should be as fair as possible. He objected to what the Indian government was doing”. The book states that Gandhi began a hunger strike, and as a result, the Indian government paid Pakistan the remaining Rs500 million it owed us.

Fourth, the ‘O’ levels books quote Jinnah’s critical statement: “You may belong to any religion, caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” They also mention his title of “protector-general” of minorities. It is then no surprise that Dr Tariq Rahman found in his 2002-03 survey that ‘O’ levels students have more tolerant views of minorities relative to Matric students — with 66 per cent of ‘O’ levels students versus 47 per cent of Matric students supporting equal rights for Ahmadis, 78 per cent versus 47 per cent for Hindus, and 84 per cent versus 66 per cent for Christians.

One criticism of Kelly’s book, and the official ‘O’ levels curriculum, is that it could cover a longer historical period. Currently, it covers the history of the subcontinent from the Mughal Empire onwards. Bajwa’s book casts the widest lens on pre-independence history, (briefly) covering Hindu empires, the Indus Valley civilisation, and the Persian and Greek invaders of the subcontinent.

Riaz Haq said...

Cambridge International Examinations: Not Pakistani, so it must be good
By Hooria Imran Published: May 10, 2013

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/17016/cambridge-international-examinations-not-pakistani-so-it-must-be-good/

I began to notice, with increasing clarity, how much emphasis our teachers put upon the internalisation of what I call the CIE ‘exam formula’.

In Pakistan , where people are quick to condemn the local education system for its corrupt policies and inefficiency, the implications of a CIE ‘exam formula’ are heavy.

As a 12th grader currently doing my AS level, I feel that the educational arena and its opportunities are perceived in a very dichotomous manner.

Firstly, people engage in the belief that the local examination boards are excessively inefficient. In true reductionist fashion, they cite instances of cheating in examination halls, laughingly point out the typos in a Karachi Board textbook, and express their dismay at the concept of rote learning that local boards are supposedly the sole perpetrator of.

Such notions, in turn, facilitate the glorification and uncritical acceptance of the international examination boards available in Pakistan, of which the most widely-endorsed one is Cambridge International Examinations.

When viewed within the context of South Asia’s colonial history with Britain, such endorsement poses a problematic picture.

I have had the good fortune of taking high school exams through both, SSC and CIE. My experience with the two boards and its candidates has made me come to understand the assumptions made by the two institutions about and towards each other and I have seen how they play into the post-colonial situation of Pakistan.

O/A level candidates have a very poor impression of SSC/HSSC education. They believe it to be superfluous – somehow sub-par and not wholesome enough.

On the other hand, CIE qualifications always merit instant validation from society and assert one’s social status. When discussing the shortcomings of the Matriculation system, there is always a sense of gratification shown by O level students.

“Thank God I’m doing O levels! I’d never have been able to ratta-fy (rote learn) so much text!”

Comments like this always make me sceptical because such mentality contributes dangerously to the class divide that exists in educational sectors.

Where does this childish superiority complex end and the hegemonic exploitation of the lower social classes at the hands of the British-affiliated education sector begin?

Time and again, especially with the examination date so close, my teachers have emphasised the importance of doing past papers, and frequently impart lessons from ‘What CIE Expects from a Candidate.’

To do well in CIE requires monetary resources. Thus, for the upper classes, education through an international education board like CIE is an easy opportunity. The same cannot be said for the lower social classes. They cannot afford the same opportunities, and are yet evaluated on the same standard that society expects of education from an international exam board.

Many would argue that the CIE curriculum is designed specifically in such a way that it keeps in regard the socio-political situation of the countries that it includes. Even so, the insidious effects of a CIE education as a lived experience are immense.

The social divide that I mentioned before is one. Also, through the endorsement of particular texts, CIE has the power to perpetuate Eurocentric colonial images in Pakistan’s society simply by training students to inculcate the CIE “formula” based on which they’ll be graded in their exams. This is not to say that local curriculum and educational boards prescribe the most objective and undistorted texts either, but Pakistan’s geopolitical history with Britain in particular lends problematic undertones to the issue where a Western education board like CIE is concerned.

Anonymous said...

For all its faults India more or less banned Cambridge curriculum in the 1970s by refusing to recognize it for admission into elite colleges iit downwards.whatever the faults Indians write their own textbooks which paint a far poorer picture of British India than Cambridge curriculum does for obvious reasons...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "For all its faults India more or less banned Cambridge curriculum in the 1970s by refusing to recognize it for admission into elite colleges"

Here's recent news:

Cambridge International Examinations today announced the results of its March 2017 exam series in India for Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications. With more than 34,000 entries, the March 2017 series grew by 29 per cent on 2016, according to a press release.

There was a 31 per cent increase in entries for Cambridge IGCSE this year, with more than 26,000 entries. Entries for Cambridge International AS & A Level increased by 21 per cent on March 2016 with more than 7,000 entries.

http://www.brainfeedmagazine.com/cambridge-international-examinations-announces-results-march-2017-exams-india/

Students who have pursued ‘A’ level education in India have consistently attained high academic achievements in Indian competitive tests and Indian universities for the last 30 years or so. ‘IGCSE’ and ‘A’ Level qualifications are accepted by all relevant educational institutions in India. The University of Calcutta, The Association of Indian Universities, the Joint Entrance Board and the IIT Boards recognise that (a) ‘IGCSE’ and ‘A’ Level qualifications are equivalent to corresponding qualifications obtained under relevant Indian Boards, and (b) students with ‘IGCSE’ and ‘A’ Level qualifications are as eligible for admission to Indian universities as students qualified under the Indian Boards. A full list of institutions and examining authorities in India which accept Cambridge qualifications can be downloaded here.


http://thecambridgeschool.ac.in/acceptance-worldwide/

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected..bad move though most super elite schools are still affiliated to Indian boards mostly case/icse.

There are growing number of international schools that follow the ib curriculum mostly catering to expats and the super rich but their performance in various entrance exams is dwarfed by elite schools on icse/case curriculum.

Riaz Haq said...

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy pushes "humanism..... fundamentalism be replaced by humanism as an alternative – a tall order in a country where liberals are held hostage to a medieval mindset whose tenets are disseminated constantly and aggressively through television, newspaper and now social media. Fear prevents all but the most courageous from speaking against the trend"

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/08/10/the-challenge-of-fundamentalism-in-pakistan-and-around-the-world


But what is humanism and how is it used by colonial and neo-colonial powers against the colonized?

Excerpt pf "What Is to Be Done: The Enlightened Thinkers and an Islamic Renaissance"
By Ali Shari'ati


Humanism is a school of thought used by the powers that be in he world to control the destinies of other nations to establish superficial and false relationships between te colonizer and the colonized. It is to eliminate the natural state of enmity, struggle and rancor between two opposing poles and to create a mystical, humanistic and general peace between them .... This is a tactic which has been used in Africa, Latin America and the Islamic East, by misusing the theses of common religion, nationalism, and humanism. ... today the latter (nationalism) has become a progressive anti-colonialism front in Africa, Asia, and Latin ... superficial and false relationships between the colonizer and the colonized.

https://books.google.com/books?id=aaZXDQAAQBAJ&pg=PT23&lpg=PT23&dq=humanism+used+to+colonize+asia+africa&source=bl&ots=lT6y8h8ibu&sig=SR8JxoZs8pf-zqxw-xfLCM71WYI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihtdfw3s3VAhUHS2MKHdlpCeUQ6AEIRzAG#v=onepage&q=humanism%20used%20to%20colonize%20asia%20africa&f=false

Anonymous said...


I have not heard of any Cambridge A level snobbery in India as all elite schools Doon School,DPS,St PAul's etc follow Indian boards and CIE are generally referred to as escape routes for people who cannot cope up with Indian academic pressure Indian Grade 12 (A level equivalent) is a cross between British and USSR education systems and fairly difficult(Standard reference books for IIT entrance exams include weepingly difficult stuff like IE Irodov Problems in General Physics and Igor Piskunov's Integral and Differential calculus.)
Unfortunately not many(most frankly) students go to schools equipped to teach it so a large number barely scrape through but those fortunate enough to go through good schools have no complex vis a vis CIE boards or IB boards.

Riaz Haq said...

#NBA’s #KevinDurant on #India"Cows, Stray Dogs" "Bunch of Underprivileged People" "20 years behind" #Poverty #Filth
https://www.thequint.com/sports/2017/08/11/nba-star-kevin-durant-on-india

NBA champion Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors had visited India in July to help the NBA make inroads into the nation of 1.3 billion.
Durant took part in a camp in New Delhi, where he helped set a Guinness World Record for the largest basketball lesson – 3,459 people participated in it across multiple venues.
The NBA finals MVP met young players at the NBA Academy, with many more joining via satellite from four other cities across the country.
However, after returning to the United States, he said in an interview to The Athletic that India is 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience.

I went with no expectation, no view on what it’s supposed to be like. I usually go to places where I at least have a view in my head. India, I’m thinking I’m going to be around palaces and royalty and gold — basically thought I was going to Dubai. Then when I landed there, I saw the culture and how they live and it was rough. It’s a country that’s 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience.
Kevin Durant
Durant added that there are “just a bunch of underprivileged people living in India”.
You see cows on the street, monkeys running around everywhere, hundreds of people on the side of the road, a million cars and no traffic violations. Just a bunch of underprivileged people there and they want to learn how to play basketball. That was really, really dope to me.

Riaz Haq said...


#India at 70: #Lynchistan #racist #fascist #xenophobic #Hindu #Supremacist #Modi #BJP

"Mr. Modi’s rule represents the most devastating, and perhaps final, defeat of India’s noble postcolonial ambition to create a moral world order. It turns out that the racist imperialism Du Bois despised can resurrect itself even among its former victims: There can be English rule without the Englishman. India’s claims to exceptionalism appear to have been as unfounded as America’s own." --- Pankaj Mishra

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/opinion/india-70-partition-pankaj-mishra.html

India at 70, and the Passing of Another Illusion

By PANKAJ MISHRA
AUG. 11, 2017

August 15, 1947, deserved to be remembered, the African-American writer W.E.B. Du Bois argued, “as the greatest historical date” of modern history. It was the day India became independent from British rule, and Du Bois believed the event was of “greater significance” than even the establishment of democracy in Britain, the emancipation of slaves in the United States or the Russian Revolution. The time “when the white man, by reason of the color of his skin, can lord it over colored people” was finally drawing to a close.

It is barely remembered today that India’s freedom heralded the liberation, from Tuskegee to Jakarta, of a majority of the world’s population from the degradations of racist imperialism. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, claimed that there had been nothing “more horrible” in human history than the days when millions of Africans “were carried away in galleys as slaves to America and elsewhere.” As he said in a resonant speech on Aug. 15, 1947, long ago India had made a “tryst with destiny,” and now, by opening up a broad horizon of human emancipation, “we shall redeem our pledge.”

But India, which turns 70 next week, seems to have missed its appointment with history. A country inaugurated by secular freedom fighters is presently ruled by religious-racial supremacists. More disturbing still than this mutation are the continuities between those early embodiments of postcolonial virtue and their apparent betrayers today.

Du Bois would have been heartbroken to read the joint statement that more than 40 African governments released in April, denouncing “xenophobic and racial” attacks on Africans in India and asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate. The rise in hate crimes against Africans is part of a sinister trend that has accelerated since the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

Another of its bloodcurdling manifestations is the lynching of Muslims suspected of eating or storing beef. Others include assaults on couples who publicly display affection and threats of rape against women on social media by the Hindu supremacists’ troll army. Mob frenzy in India today is drummed up by jingoistic television anchors and vindicated, often on Twitter, by senior politicians, businessmen, army generals and Bollywood stars.

Hindu nationalists have also come together to justify India’s intensified military occupation of Muslim-majority Kashmir, as well as a nationwide hunt for enemies: an ever-shifting and growing category that includes writers, liberal intellectuals, filmmakers who work with Pakistani actors and ordinary citizens who don’t stand up when the national anthem is played in cinemas. The new world order — just, peaceful, equal — that India’s leaders promised at independence as they denounced their former Western masters’ violence, greed and hypocrisy is nowhere in sight.


Riaz Haq said...

#India at 70: #Lynchistan #racist #fascist #xenophobic #Hindu #Supremacist #Modi #BJP

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/opinion/india-70-partition-pankaj-mishra.html

Indian leaders very seldom practiced domestically what they preached internationally. Though committed to parliamentary procedures, Nehru never let go of the British-created colonial state and its well-oiled machinery of repression. The brute power of the Indian police and army was used in 1948 to corral the princely state of Hyderabad into the Indian Union. Up to 40,000 Muslims were killed, and the episode remains the single-largest massacre in the history of independent India.

Nehru shared with Hindu nationalists a mystical faith in the essential continuity of India from ancient civilization to modern nation. Determined to hold on to Kashmir, for example, he abandoned his promise of organizing a referendum to decide the contested region’s political status. In 1953, he deposed a popular Kashmiri politician (and friend) and had him sent to prison, inaugurating a long reign of puppet leaders who continue to enrich themselves under the long shadow of the Indian gun.

As early as 1958, Nehru’s regime introduced the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the forerunner of repressive legislation that today sanctions murder, torture and rape by Indian soldiers in central India and border provinces. It was under Nehru that Indian troops and paramilitaries were unleashed on indigenous peoples in India’s northeastern states in the 1950s and ’60s. It was Nehru who in 1961 made it a crime to question the territorial integrity of India, punishable with imprisonment.

Yet in the eyes of the world, India maintained its exceptional status for decades, as many promising postcolonial experiments with democracy degenerated into authoritarianism, if not military rule. The country’s democratic politics appeared stable. But they did so only because they were reduced to the rule of a single party, the Congress, which was itself dominated by a single family — Nehru’s. And far from being socialist or redistributionist, Nehru’s economic policies boosted India’s monopoly capitalists. His priorities were heavy industries and elite polytechnics, which precluded major investments in primary education, health and land reform.

Anonymous said...

No amount of hatred and ill will of an insignificant Muslim minority from a failed state in an anti muslim country will stop India's rise to the top.

You are destined to watch impotently from the sidelines as India rises and Pakistan collapses.

Here's wishing you a long life...

Kaptaan said...

Just for the record elites in these [below] countries have indeed been colonized with Western mind.

* China
* Japan
* South Korea
* Singapore
* Turkey
* Lebanon
* Azerbaijhan
* Kazakstan

Riaz Haq said...

Kaptaan: "Just for the record elites in these [below] countries have indeed been colonized with Western mind"


With the possible exception of Singapore, they all use their own languages for educational instructions and they have their own curriculums. In Pakistan, the elite schools that produce the nation's leaders are all English medium schools and many follow Cambridge curriculum for O level and A level education. They even use Pakistani history books by English authors like Nigel Kelly.

Riaz Haq said...


Trashing #India sells better for #Western audiences. #Slumdog #Ray #Roy #Gidla #Dalit #Boo #Economist http://www.dailyo.in/politics/intellectuals-satyajit-ray-arundhati-roy/story/1/18920.html … via @dailyo_

More contemporaneously, Slumdog Millionaire by British director Danny Boyle was a rage abroad. The one stomach-churning scene in the movie starring Frieda Pinto, Anil Kapoor and Dev Patel where a child falls into an excreta-filled sewer was played and replayed on foreign television networks with feigned horror. (The excreta was, in fact, a mixture of peanut butter and chocolate sauce.)

Books receive the same treatment. Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity which retells her experiences living in a Mumbai slum for three years, sparing no gory detail, was published to international acclaim in 2012.

Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness received an equally rapturous welcome abroad as it wended its laborious way through India’s graveyard of troubles: Kashmir, Maoism, poverty, communalism, violence. Roy’s sense of bitter hopelessness about India enthrals foreign publishers.

Now a book by Sujatha Gidla, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, is the latest toast of the West. A Dalit Christian, Gidla tells the story of her uncle Satyamurthy, a Maoist leader who fought the Indian state from the jungles of central India.

In a gushing review, The Economist (July 29, 2017) described Gidla as heralding the “arrival of a formidable new writer.” The magazine added: “Ants among Elephants is an interesting, affecting and ultimately enlightening memoir. It is quite possibly the most striking work of non-fiction set in India since Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.”

The names trip of the tongue nicely: Ray, Roy, Boo, Gidla. Of course The Economist wouldn’t dare review Shashi Tharoor’s excellent book An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India which exposes Britain’s horrific crimes during its colonial occupation of India.

Even the British edition of Tharoor’s book was re-titled to make it less offensive to the British. An Era of Darkness became the anodyne An Inglorious Empire: What the British Did To India. In an interview with the BBC for the book’s British launch earlier this year, one of the panelists was dismissive of Tharoor’s evocative and detailed description of the brutalities of the British Empire and the financial ruination it brought upon India.

In contrast, Arundhati Roy’s dark vision of India has been lapped up by newspapers like The New York Times and television channels in Europe and America. Should all of this matter? Emphatically not. India has many flaws – violence, poverty, rape, corruption, casteism. It is right for journalists and authors, Indian and foreign, to write about them.

It is equally right for filmmakers to show the underbelly of India – from the coal mines of Dhanbad to the slums of Mumbai. Sunlight is a disinfectant. Shine it mercilessly on our imperfections. Only then will change take place. The problem though is balance.

-------

In its review of Gidla’s book, The Economist gives its Western readers a detailed tutorial on India’s caste system: “One in six Indians is a Dalit, which means 'oppressed' in Sanskrit. That is to say, 200 million Indians belong to a community deemed so impure by the scriptures that they are placed outside the hierarchical Hindu caste system and are commonly called ‘untouchable’. Upper-caste Hindus traditionally treated untouchables as agents of pollution. To come into contact with them was to be defiled, they believed. Indian villages depended on untouchables to provide field labour and clear away human waste. Yet untouchables were excluded from village life.

Anonymous said...

The above is true for all non western countries..when was the last time you read something positive about China/Russia.

As the west continues its relative decline expect the anti orient tirades and drain inspector reports to get shriller for the past 200 years the west has considered itself the pinnacle of human evolution and worthy of slavish emulation.The fact that Chinese and Indians consider their far more ancient civilizations inherently superior and will not ape them like Filipinos creates resentment..

Riaz Haq said...

INGLORIOUS EMPIRE
The lies Brits tell themselves about how they left behind a better India

https://qz.com/1053297/independence-day-what-good-did-the-british-do-for-india-during-the-raj/

Railways. The British built the railways primarily for themselves, using their own technology and forcing Indians to buy British equipment. Each mile of the Indian railway constructed cost nine times as much as the same in the US, and twice that in difficult and less populated Canada and Australia. The bills were footed by Indian taxpayers and British investors received a guaranteed return on their capital. Freight charges were dirt cheap, and Indians who traveled 3rd class paid for expensive tickets.
Tea. The British desire to end their dependence on Chinese tea prompted them to set up plantations in India. Following many failed attempts, they managed to find a local version that worked. For this, the British felled vast forests, stripped the tribals who lived there of their rights, and then paid Indian labourers poorly to cultivate the cleared areas. Once the tea was ready, it was shipped off to Britain or sold internationally. The little bit left in India was too expensive, until the Great Depression when weak global demand finally let Indians enjoy the delights of the drink.
Cricket. “Yes, the British brought it to us,” Tharoor writes. “But they did not do so in the expectation that we would defeat them one day at their own game, or that our film-makers would win an Oscar nomination for an improbable tale about a motley bunch of illiterate villagers besting their colonial overlords at a fictional 19th-century match (Lagaan, 2001).”
English language. The British made it absolutely clear that it was only taught to serve their own purpose. Lord Macaulay wrote: “We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect.” (This is the same Macaulay who also said, “A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.”)
“That Indians seized the English language and turned it into an instrument for our own liberation was to their credit, not by British design,” Tharoor writes.
The upshot of the empire, as Tharoor puts it, was that “What had once been one of the richest and most industrialised economies of the world, which together with China accounted for almost 75% of world industrial output in 1750, had been reduced by the depredations of imperial rule to one of the poorest, most backward, illiterate and diseased societies on Earth by the time of independence in 1947.”
Inglorious Empire shows in full glory how the British systematically purged India’s riches, destroyed its institutions, and created divisions among its peoples. Worse still, there has been no formal apology for what the empire wreaked on its subjects. Instead, there is rising nostalgia for the empire as nationalism surges in a country that is now three ranks below India in the size of its economy.

Riaz Haq said...

John Locke Against Freedom
JOHN QUIGGIN

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/06/locke-treatise-slavery-private-property/

John Locke's classical liberalism isn't a doctrine of freedom. It's a defense of expropriation and enslavement.

Given his reputation as a defender of property rights and personal freedom, Locke has been accused of hypocrisy for his role in promoting and benefiting from slavery and the expropriation of indigenous populations, actions that would seem to contradict his philosophical position. This is too charitable.

The real contradictions are to be found within Locke’s philosophical writings. These are designed to fit his political positions both in England, where he supported resistance to the absolutist pretensions of the Catholic James II, and in America, where he was part of the slave-owning ruling class (albeit from afar).

An early example of Locke’s doctrinal flexibility can be found in his Letters Concerning Toleration. Although the argument for toleration appears general, Locke manages to find reasons for excluding both Catholics and atheists. So, in the context of seventeenth-century England, the only group who would benefit from Locke’s proposed policy of toleration was Protestant dissenters from the established Church of England. This was, not surprisingly, the group to which Locke belonged.

Locke’s theory of property is similarly self-serving. It’s generally seen as a historical fiction, used to justify currently existing property rights, despite the fact that they cannot really have been acquired in the way that Locke suggests. As Hume objected, “there is no property in durable objects, such as lands or houses, when carefully examined in passing from hand to hand, but must, in some period, have been founded on fraud and injustice.”

That’s true of course. Considered in the American context, however, Locke is not offering a theory of original acquisition. Rather, his theory is one of expropriation, designed specifically to justify the “fraud and injustice” to which Hume refers.

Locke’s central idea is that agriculturalists, by mixing their labor with the soil, thereby acquire a title to it. He immediately faces the objection that before the arrival of agriculture, hunters and gatherers worked on the land and gained sustenance from it. So, it would seem, the would-be farmer has arrived too late. The obvious example, to which he refers several times, is that of European colonists arriving in America. Locke’s answer is twofold.

First, he invokes his usual claim that there is plenty of land for everybody, so appropriating some land for agriculture can’t be of any harm to the hunter-gatherers. This is obviously silly. It might conceivably be true for the first agriculturalist (though on standard Malthusian grounds there is no reason to suppose this), or the second or the fiftieth, but at some point the land must cease to be sufficient to support the preexisting hunter-gatherer population. At this point, well before all land has been acquired by agriculturalists, his theory fails.

Riaz Haq said...

What if Western media covered #Charlottesville the same way it covers other nations https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/08/16/what-if-western-media-covered-americas-white-tribalism-the-same-way-it-covers-other-nations/ …


If we talked about what happened in Charlottesville the same way we talk about events in a foreign country, here’s how Western media would cover it. Those quoted in the “story” below are fictional.

The international community is yet again sounding the alarm on ethnic violence in the United States under the new regime of President Trump. The latest flash point occurred this past weekend when the former Confederate stronghold of Charlottesville descended into chaos following rallies of white supremacist groups protesting the removal of statues celebrating leaders of the defeated Confederate states. The chaos turned deadly when Heather Heyer, a member of the white ethnic majority who attended the rally as a counterprotester, was killed when a man with neo-Nazi sympathies allegedly drove his car into a crowd.

Trump, a former reality television host, beauty pageant organizer and businessman, rose to political prominence by publicly questioning the citizenship of the United States’ first black president, Barack Obama. Since his election, Trump has targeted Muslims, refugees, Mexicans and the media. He has also advocated for police brutality. These tactics have appealed to and emboldened white ethno-nationalist groups and domestic terrorist organizations.

After Charlottesville, Trump has largely refused to unequivocally condemn the actions of the white supremacist groups. In a shocking news conference Tuesday, Trump, fuming after consuming hours of cable television, doubled down on blaming “both sides” for the weekend’s violence. His remarks garnered praise from a former leader of a white terrorist group known as the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville,” Duke said on Twitter.

Beyond Trump’s coddling of white extremist groups, the emboldening of white supremacists and neo-Nazis raises questions about the state of the United States’ democracy 152 years after its brutal civil war over the rights of the white ethnic majority in its southern region to enslave members of the black ethnic minority. After the Charlottesville turmoil, more protests are expected around the country against the removal of Confederate monuments.

“Culturally, Americans are a curious lot,” said Andrew Darcy Morthington, an United Kingdom-based commentator who once embarked on a two-year mission trip to teach rural American children and therefore qualifies as an expert on U.S. affairs. “Donald Trump’s campaign message was that he would make America great again, and that there would be so much ‘winning.’ If America cares about being great, why has it fought so hard to keep monuments to the Confederate losers and enslavers?”

“The worst thing Britain ever did was letting go of our colony and thinking Americans were capable of governing themselves without eventually resorting back to tribal politics,” said Martin Rhodes, a shopkeeper in London. “I can’t believe a once-great empire would threaten everything it has built over generations just because a group of people give in to racism and xenoph…” Rhodes’s voice trailed off as he stared wistfully at a silent Big Ben.

Experts are also linking the weekend violence to the scourge of domestic terrorism carried out by white males, who have carried out almost twice as many mass attacks on American soil than Muslims have in recent years.

“This is the time for moderates across the white male world to come out and denounce violent racial terrorism, white supremacy and regressive tribal politics,” said James Charlotin, a Canadian national security expert. “Why haven’t they spoken out?”

Riaz Haq said...

How Western media would cover Baltimore if it happened elsewhere

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/04/30/how-western-media-would-cover-baltimore-if-it-happened-elsewhere/?utm_term=.9fc9d0cfa6f7

If what is happening in Baltimore happened in a foreign country, here is how Western media would cover it:

International leaders expressed concern over the rising tide of racism and state violence in America, especially concerning the treatment of ethnic minorities in the country and the corruption in state security forces around the country when handling cases of police brutality. The latest crisis is taking place in Baltimore, Maryland, a once-bustling city on the country’s Eastern Seaboard, where an unarmed man named Freddie Gray died from a severed spine while in police custody.

Black Americans, a minority ethnic group, are killed by state security forces at a rate higher than the white majority population. Young, black American males are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white American males.

The United Kingdom expressed concern over the troubling turn of events in America in the last several months. The country’s foreign ministry released a statement: “We call on the American regime to rein in the state security agents who have been brutalizing members of America’s ethnic minority groups. The equal application of the rule of law, as well as the respect for human rights of all citizens, black or white, is essential for a healthy democracy.” Britain has always maintained a keen interest in America, a former colony.

Palestine has offered continued assistance to American pro-democracy activists, sending anti-tear-gas kits to those protesting police brutality in various American cities. Egyptian pro-democracy groups have also said they will be sharing their past experience with U.S.-made counter-protest weapons.

A statement from the United Nations said, “We condemn the militarization and police brutality that we have seen in recent months in America, and we strongly urge American state security forces to launch a full investigation into the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. There is no excuse for excessive police violence.” The U.N. called on the United States to make a concerted effort to make databases of police violence public to improve transparency and cut down on corruption in the justice system.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump’s pigs’ blood bullets claim is fake news — but US massacre of #Muslims isn’t. #Philippines #Islamophobia

https://www.dawn.com/news/1352624/trumps-pigs-blood-bullets-claim-is-fake-news-but-us-massacre-of-muslims-isnt

I DON’T know what the people of Barcelona think about Trump’s demented and repulsive tale of bullets and pig’s blood — but I know what Mark Twain would have said. He was the finest American political writer of his time — perhaps of all time — and he wrote with bitterness, sarcasm and disgust about the US military’s war crimes in the Philippines in 1906. No doubt Trump would have approved of them.

As so often, there’s no proof — and thus no truth — to the story that General Pershing ever told his soldiers to execute Filipino fighters with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. Besides, Pershing had left the islands and the Philippine-US war was officially over when the Americans slaughtered the Moro Muslims in their hundreds in what became known as the Battle of Bud Dajo. With Trump-like enthusiasm, Republican President Theodore Roosevelt congratulated the US commanders on their “brilliant feat of arms”.

Twain thought differently. The American military had brutally crushed an uprising by the ethnic Muslim Moro people, a final and hopeless battle in the Philippine war of independence against the US. It is a tale not without significance in any study of America’s recent occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

He wrote a deeply cynical essay about the “battle” of Bud Dajo a few days later. Up to 1,000 Moro men, women and children were killed by US forces who had surrounded them in their mountain refuge 2,200 feet above sea level, a volcanic crater in which all but six of the Muslims were killed. A surviving photograph of the atrocity shows uniformed US troops standing above piles of corpses, one of them a bare-breasted woman.

“With 600 engaged on each side,” Twain wrote, “we lost 15 men killed outright, and we had 32 wounded … The enemy numbered 600 — including women and children — and we abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. This is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by the Christian soldiers of the United States … The splendid news appeared with splendid display — heads in every newspaper in this city … But there was not a single reference to it in the editorial columns of any one of those newspapers.”

Twain observed that not one reader wrote to support the US “victory”. But President Roosevelt sent his congratulations to the US Commander, Major General Leonard Wood, in Manila: “I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they so well upheld the honour of the American flag.”

Twain recorded the headlines over the following days — “Women Slain in Moro Massacre”, “With Children They Mixed in Mob in Crater, and All Died Together”, “Death List is Now 900”, “Impossible to Tell Sexes Apart in Fierce Battle on Top of Mount Dajo” — and remarked that “the naked savages were so far away, down in the bottom of that trap, that our soldiers could not tell the breasts of a woman from the rudimentary paps of a man — so far away that they couldn’t tell a toddling child from a black six-footer.” A headline announcing “Lieutenant Johnson Blown from Parapet by Exploding Artillery Gallantly Leading Charge” convinced Twain that the soldier must have been wounded by his own side — since the Moros had no artillery.

Riaz Haq said...

The problem with the Quilliam Foundation
TOM GRIFFIN 7 November 2016
The Quilliam foundation's focus on radical Islam leaves equally dangerous far-right movements under-investigated.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/tom-griffin/problem-with-quilliam-foundation

The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) has a long history of fighting racism, extending back to roots in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, so its Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists published last month, attracted widespread interest from those involved in combatting Islamophobia. Unfortunately, this latest publication has been controversial because it includes Maajid Nawaz, the co-founder of the UK counter-extremist think-tank Quilliam Foundation.

Nawaz has denounced this characterisation as 'Islam-splaining', describing himself as 'a brown, liberal, reform Muslim' and denouncing his critics as the 'regressive left', a charge echoed by Nick Cohen in the Spectator. Some elements of SPLC's critique of Nawaz were indeed questionable. It is not clear that the inclusion of some of his more personal peccadilloes shed any light on the charge of extremism. To accuse any self-identified Muslim of anti-Muslim extremism should always give one pause, given the risk of setting oneself up as arbitrator of others’ religious beliefs. There should be a high bar, and the scattershot nature of some of the SPLC's criticisms suggests that bar has not been met, even if other points do illustrate the profoundly illiberal impact of Quilliam's brand of counter-subversion.

This does not mean that a Muslim can never be said to be an anti-Muslim extremist. A good example is provided by a previous row involving Quilliam and a close British analogue of the SPLC, Hope Not Hate. In December last year, Hope Not Hate published a report on the so-called 'counterjihad movement', a self-identified coalition of hardline, far-right anti-Muslim groups, which spawned among other organisations, the English Defence League in Britain.

The emergence of the counterjihad movement had previously been noted in the journal of the Royal United Service Institute as early as 2008. The most comprehensive study of the US counterjihad movement, Fear Inc., by the Center for American Progress, identified its key activists including Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy and David Horowitz of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, both conspiracy theorists who have claimed Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood; as well as Pamela Gellar and Robert Spencer, the co-founders of Stop the Islamization of America. These in turn were funded by a small number of key conservative foundations such as the Donors Capital Fund, the Scaife Foundations, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Abstraction Fund.

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We should think twice about labelling muslims as anti-Muslim extremists, but that must not stop anti-racist organisations from challenging those who abet the counterjihad movement, and that is why groups like SPLC, Hope Not Hate, Tell Mama and others have rightly scrutinised Quilliam's ambiguous role.

Riaz Haq said...

One of America's Most Dangerous Think Tanks Is Spreading Islamophobic Hate Across the Atlantic
The Gatestone Institute has pumped out reams of dangerous anti-Muslim propaganda, and its ties to UK groups deserve close scrutiny.

http://www.alternet.org/investigations/one-americas-most-dangerous-think-tanks-spreading-islamophobic-hate-across-atlantic

The Gatestone Institute, a New York-based think tank, has become one of the most important hubs in America’s Islamophobia industry, pumping out reams of dangerous anti-Muslim propaganda of the kind lapped up by far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik. The transatlantic dimensions of Gatestone’s influence have so far gone largely unnoticed, but its close links to several British groups, including the Quilliam Foundation, Stand for Peace and the Henry Jackson Society deserve close scrutiny.

Despite its virulent anti-Muslim racism, Gatestone has been able to maintain a large roster of contributors, including a number of Muslim authors. When I interviewed one former Gatestone contributor, Shiraz Maher, who now works at King’s College London’s International Center for the Study of Radicalization (and built his career on the back of his claims to be a reformed “ex-extremist”), he confirmed he had been paid for articles, but declined to say how much. However, a separate policy analyst, who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity, named a different UK-based Muslim writer on Gatestone’s books whom he claimed was being paid, in return for producing articles “on demand,” the tidy sum of $65,000 a year.

These figures fit with the fact that Gatestone’s revenue was reportedly $1.1 million in 2012 and that attendees at its events were at one point being asked for a "minimum donation of $10,000." When I pointed out to Maher the prominent Islamophobia in the writing of Peder Jensen aka “Fjordman” and a plethora of other Gatestone authors, Maher said he no longer contributed articles to the think tank. But others in the UK—who similarly style themselves as “anti-extremists” yet apparently see no irony in associating with this extremely Islamophobic (but also extremely well-funded) think tank—have forged links with Gatestone more recently.

Collective blame and the Quilliam Foundation

Chief among these is the Quilliam Foundation. In January 2015, just days after the Paris attacks, Gatestone spent approximately $100,000 taking out a full page advert in the New York Times. To drive home its implicit message that a “good Muslim” supports US power, two out of the three Muslims pictured in the Gatestone advert were posing next to the American flag. Mentioning violence in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Egypt and “Africa,” the text of the advertisement effortlessly ignored all other violence in the world not involving any of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims and simultaneously glossed over the context-specific political factors at play in each conflict. The subtext was clear: Gatestone was advocating a mono-causal explanation for this violence and put the spotlight firmly on Islam.

Riaz Haq said...

How the British convinced Hindus that Muslims were despots and religious invaders

The East India Company wanted to be seen as a rectifier of the historical harm inflicted by the Muslims.


https://scroll.in/magazine/850787/how-the-british-convinced-hindus-that-muslims-were-despots-and-religious-invaders


It is a fact not so easily known, thus rarely acknowledged, that the British colonial project in India at one moment turned into an excavation of India’s pasts. This excavation was aimed at exploring the arrival of various foreign people, cultures, religions and politics into the subcontinent. After all, the Indian peninsula had been the site of commercial, political and military incursions by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the Timurids since 1498. Surely, one reason for the excavation was that, as the latest foreigners to arrive in India, the British wanted a justification for their own arrival. The other reason is tied to the way in which the British saw themselves as heirs to the Romans.

Edward Gibbon published the first volume of his book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776, the year Great Britain lost 13 of its colonies in America. All six volumes of the book came out by 1788 to tremendous acclaim and sales. A central theme in Gibbon’s work was his quest for historical linkages between Pax Britannica – the period of British-dominated world order – and Pax Romana.

He provided the foundational stone for a theory that sought to legitimise British colonial enterprise as a successor to a great empire of the past that brought a long era of peace and prosperity for Europe in its wake. Even more influential, I would argue, is his exploration of the relationship between race and politics within the context of the Roman experience. This relationship was immediately employed in legitimising the British conquest of India.

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John Jehangir Bede’s doctoral dissertation, The Arabs in Sind: 712-1026 AD, was written within this academic context. Submitted to the University of Utah in 1973, the thesis remained unpublished until Karachi’s Endowment Fund Trust for Preservation of the Heritage of Sindh printed it earlier this year.

We do not know why Bede never published his work. Notes on the dust jacket of the book state that all attempts to trace his family or career were largely unsuccessful. The only thing we know is that he worked with Dr Aziz S Atiya, an influential historian of the Crusades, and that his work has been cited and expanded upon by historians such as Derryl MacLean, Mubarak Ali, Muhammad Yar Khan and Yohannan Friedman in the 1980s and 1990s. How are we to read this dissertation in 2017? One possible way is to see what the history of Muslim origins in India, as well as the historiography detailed above, looked like in 1973.

Bede starts his dissertation by reflecting on the fact that the history of Sindh has received little contemporary attention. He observes that this is because there have been relatively few textual sources for this history and that historians have been “generally subject to preconceived prejudices mainly colored by the religious outlook of particular authors”.

Instead of treating the Muslims as religious invaders, he explores an economic basis for their conquest of Sindh by examining a variety of sources, earliest of which date to the middle of the 9th century. In his last chapter, Commerce and Culture in Sind, he draws upon travelogues, merchant accounts and poetry from the ninth and 10th centuries to argue that there once existed an interconnected Indian Ocean world in which Sindh was a pivot.

Riaz Haq said...

Framing of Malala Yousafzai: a comparative analysis of news coverage in Western and Pakistani mainstream English print and alternative media

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01296612.2016.1142248?journalCode=rmea20&

This study compares Pakistani and the Anglo-American media news framing and how these sources portray similar news events. Specifically, it is a comparative analysis of news regarding the principal time periods in Malala Yousafzai’s life, namely: (1) the shooting of Malala by a Taliban gunman and her subsequent recovery; (2) the intervening period when Malala emerges as a brand and is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; and, (3) the period surrounding the winning of the Prize before she fades out from the media limelight. The study found that Western media articles framed her as a female education activist, a victim of terrorism, a victim of a society largely hostile to women and a beacon of hope for girls in a highly restrictive society. The Pakistani mainstream English media, at times, preferred to tow the western lead without clarifying its own stance. However, Pakistani alternative English media was largely critical of Malala, post western intervention. The results may have far-reaching implications and raise questions about the framing by audience and the modes of communication people adopt for building their knowledge structure.

Riaz Haq said...

Where did the idea of an ‘Islamic bomb’ come from?

https://theconversation.com/where-did-the-idea-of-an-islamic-bomb-come-from-69385

The heavily freighted idea of an “Islamic bomb” has been around for some decades now. The notion behind it is that a nuclear weapon developed by an “Islamic” nation would automatically become the Islamic world’s shared property – and more than that, a “nuclear sword” with which to wage jihad. But as with many terms applied to the “Islamic world”, it says more about Western attitudes than about why and how nuclear technology has spread.
The concept as we know it emerged from anxieties about proliferation, globalisation, resurgent Islam, and conspiracies real and imagined, a fearful idea that could be applied to the atomic ambitions of any Muslim nation or non-state group. It looked at Pakistan’s nuclear programme and extrapolated it to encompass everything between the mountains of South Asia and the deserts of North Africa. And ever since it appeared it has retained its power to shock, eliding terrorism, jihadism, the perceived ambitions of “Islamic” states, and state-private proliferation networks into one fearsome term.
It has also made a useful avatar for all sorts of specific threats – Muammar Gaddafi’s anti-Western “fanaticism”, Saddam Hussein’ssocialist Ba’athism, the Iranian Mullahs’ revolutionary Islamic ideology, contemporary fundamentalist terrorism, and Pakistan’s military-Islamicthinking.
But of course, the Islamic bomb idea is part of a web of complex geopolitical ideas. International terrorism, the rise of modern political Islam, and Western interventions all muddle the issue. And oddly enough given the way it’s used today, the term in fact began its strange life outside the West.
High hopes
The connection between religion and the bomb was in fact first explicitly made in 1970s Pakistan, where leaders Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Muhammad Zia ul-Haq both saw nuclear weapons as a means to enhance the country’s status within the so-called “Muslim world”. Yet Pakistan’s atomic programme was at its heart a nationalistic security project, not a religious one.
The term “Islamic bomb” didn’t appear in the Western news media until around 1979, when the Iranian Revolution set outsiders worrying about the potential intersections between nuclear weapons, proliferation and Islamic politics. At around the same time, India was mounting a campaign against Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions; its government and media duly began deliberately stoking fears of a pan-Islamic nuclear threat originating with Islamabad. Israel’s government, too, made it clearthat it believed an Islamic bomb was imminent.

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Through the 1980s and 1990s, countries as diverse and mutually antagonistic as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Niger and Pakistan were all tied together by the Western fear of an Islamic bomb. Prominent commentators such as Jack Anderson and William Safire consistently deployed the term; politicians as diverse as Tam Dalyell, Edward Kennedy, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan all talked about it in fearful terms. All were off-base.

Riaz Haq said...

Decolonizing the Mind

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Excerpted from Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey, Nairobi: Heinemann Kenya, New Hampshire: Heinemann, 1986.

Introduction: Towards the Universal Struggle of Language

This book is a summary of some of the issues in which I have been passionately involved for the last twenty years of my practice in fiction, theatre, criticism and in teaching literature. For those who have read my books Homecoming, Writers in Politics, Barrel of a Pen and even Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary there may be a feeling of déjà vu. Such a reaction will not be far from the truth. But the lectures on which this book is based have given me the chance to pull together in a connected and coherent form the main issues on the language question in literature which I have touched on here and there in my previous works and interviews. I hope though that the work has gained from the insights I have received from the reactions — friendly and hostile — of other people to the issues over the same years. This book is part of a continuing debate all over the continent about the destiny of Africa.

---
My approach will be different. I shall look at the African realities as they are affected by the great struggle between the two mutually opposed forces in Africa today: an imperialist tradition on one hand, and a resistance tradition on the other. The imperialist tradition in Africa is today maintained by the international bourgeoisie using the multinational and of course the flag-waving native ruling classes. The economic and political dependence of this African neo-colonial bourgeoisie is reflected in its culture of apemanship and parrotry enforced on a restive population through police boots, barbed wire, a gowned clergy and judiciary; their ideas are spread by a corpus of state intellectuals, the academic and journalistic laureates of the neo-colonial establishment. The resistance tradition is being carried out by the working people (the peasantry and the proletariat) aided by patriotic students, intellectuals (academic and non-academic), soldiers and other progressive elements of the petty middle class.....

For these patriotic defenders of the fighting cultures of African people, imperialism is not a slogan. It is real; it is palpable in content and form and in its methods and effects. Imperialism is the rule of consolidated finance capital and since 1884 this monopolistic parasitic capital has affected and continues to affect the lives even of the peasants in the remotest corners of our countries. If you are in doubt, just count how many African countries have now been mortgaged to IMF — the new International Ministry of Finance as Julius Nyerere once called it. Who pays for the mortgage? Every single producer of real wealth (use-value) in the country so mortgaged, which means every single worker and peasant. Imperialism is total: it has economic, political, military, cultural and psychological consequences for the people of the world today. It could even lead to holocaust.

The freedom for western finance capital and for the vast transnational monopolies under its umbrella to continue stealing from the countries and people of Latin America, Africa, Asia and Polynesia is today protected by conventional and nuclear weapons. Imperialism, led by the USA, presents the struggling peoples of the earth and all those calling for peace, democracy .and socialism with the ultimatum: accept theft or death.

Riaz Haq said...

Post Colonial Conversation
By Aqsa Junejo
Web Stories
October 19, 2017
http://newslinemagazine.com/post-colonial-conversation/

The Postcolonial Higher Education Conference (PHEC) has been hosted for the third time by Habib University, Pakistan’s first liberal arts and Sciences University located in Karachi. The conference is one of the premier occasions to bring some of global academia’s most renowned speakers into discursive engagement with Karachi’s academia and interested public. In 2014,Dr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor of Columbia University was welcomed as the keynote speaker.

This year’s PHEC focused on the theme “Inheritance of Injustice” to highlight the results of historical injustices seen today in many facets across the world, from economic and ecological to geo-political. As the forms of knowledge inherited from colonialism further entrench this injustice, the PHEC seeks to fill the void by inviting scholars, thinkers, activists and writers to reflect on the lingering crisis. This year’s conference included top global academics from South Asia, Africa, the US and UK.


Economist Dr. Mwangi wa Githinji from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, in his keynote speech addressed the question of a just postcolonial development. He explored the ways in which “inherited economic, social, language and ecological structures transmitted colonial injustice into the present.” He suggested that today, “Development still is understood in a deficit model based on dualities with the aim to move countries to be more like the ‘modern’ and ‘industrialized’ world” and called for education systems to also break out of their post-colonial inheritance to indigenizing systems in which “language is a library of ideas and telling a story allows us to create our own histories.”

Professor Githinji thoughtfully answered questions from the audience, and thoroughly endorsed “liberal arts and sciences education [that] allows us to become knowledge creators rather than just consumers. Part of this process requires a rethinking of our history, even before colonialization.Telling of a story is the creation of a memory.”


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In the first panel, Dr. Suren Pillay (right), University of the Western Cape, stressed that “intellectuals must struggle to decolonize knowledge, by not taking progress and civilization at face value, but by telling more multiple and messy stories that co-constitute the story of the modern state.” Professor Peter Hallward of Kingston University, London, explored the nature and value of popular sovereignty. They are pictured above in conversation with Dr. Nauman Naqvi (left) of Habib University.

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Riaz Haq said...

Center of
Study and Investigation for
Decolonial Dialogues

Decolonizing Knowledge and Power:
Postcolonial Studies,
Decolonial Horizons
A summer school in Barcelona, Spain
July 2 - July 12, 2018

http://www.dialogoglobal.com/barcelona/description.php

Course Description
“Decolonizing Knowledge and Power: Postcolonial Studies, Decolonial Horizons” is part of a larger intellectual and political initiative generally referred to as the “modernity/(de)coloniality research project.” A basic assumption of the project takes knowledge-making, since the European Renaissance, as a fundamental aspect of “coloniality” – the process of domination and exploitation of the Capitalist/Patriarchal/Imperial Western Metropolis over the rest of the world. “Decolonizing Knowledge and Power” becomes, then, a task and a process of liberation from assumed principles of knowledge and understanding of how the world is and should be, as well as from forms of organizing the economy and political authority.

The world we live today is the result of more than 500 years of Western colonial expansion and imperial designs. This created a world system with unequal power relations between the North (including the North within the South) and the South (including the South within the North). These global inequalities are produced by racial, class, gender, sexual, religious, pedagogical, linguistic, aesthetic, ecological and epistemological power hierarchies that operate in complex and entangled ways at a world-scale. This “Western-centric/Christian-centric, capitalist/patriarchal, heteronormative, modern/colonial world system” denies the epistemic diversity of the world and pretends to be mono-epistemic. The Western/Capitalist/Patriarchal tradition of thought is the hegemonic perspective within the world system with the epistemic privilege to define for the rest of the world, as part of an imperial universal design, concepts such as democracy, human rights, economy, feminism, politics, history, etc. Non-Western traditions of thought are concomitantly inferiorized and subalternized. This process is intricately tied to the history of imperial designs such as the Renaissance and Christianization in the 16th century, the Enlightenment in the 18th century, Positivism in the 19th and early part of the 20th century, developmentalism in the mid-20th century, neo-liberalism in the late 20th century and the imperial project of “exporting democracy” at the beginning of the 21st century. These imperial/colonial designs over the past 500 years illustrate over and over again that modernity is produced on the shoulders of coloniality, that is, there is no modernity without coloniality.
The international Summer School, “Decolonizing Knowledge and Power,” aims at enlarging the analysis and investigation of the hidden agenda of modernity (that is, coloniality) in the sphere of knowledge, power and being. Who is producing knowledge? What institutions and disciplines legitimize it? What is knowledge for and who benefits from it? How is our social existence colonized and how to think about decolonization of being? What power hierarchies constitute the cartography of power of the global political-economy we live in and how to go about decolonizing the world? Decolonizing knowledge and power as well as de-colonial thinking is the priority of this summer school.

Riaz Haq said...

Decolonisation of higher education: Dismantling epistemic violence and Eurocentrism in South Africa

https://www.thejournal.org.za/index.php/thejournal/article/view/9/31

Abstract
Since the end of the oppressive and racist apartheid system in 1994, epistemologies and knowledge systems at most South African universities have not considerably changed; they remain rooted in colonial, apartheid and Western worldviews and epistemological traditions. The curriculum remains largely Eurocentric and continues to reinforce white and Western dominance and privilege. This article traces the roots of Eurocentrism and epistemic violence at universities. The author argues that South Africa must tackle and dismantle the epistemic violence and hegemony of Eurocentrism, completely rethink, reframe and reconstruct the curriculum and place South Africa, Southern Africa and Africa at the centre of teaching, learning and research. However, this will not be easy as opposition to change is entrenched in the university structures. The movement to radically transform and decolonise higher education must find ways to hold institutions accountable and maintain the non-violent and intellectual struggle until epistemic violence and Eurocentrism are dismantled.

Introduction
South African students and a small number of progressive academics began a campaign in 2015 to decolonise the curriculum at universities ‘by ending the domination of Western epistemological traditions, histories and figures’ (Molefe 2016:32). In particular, the students have called for the end of domination by ‘white, male, Western, capitalist, heterosexual, European worldviews’ in higher education and incorporation of other South African, African and global ‘perspectives, experiences [and] epistemologies’ as the central tenets of the curriculum, teaching, learning and research in the country (Shay 2016).

Students have questioned not only the lack of transformation in the higher education sector but also the settlement that ended apartheid more than two decades ago. Jacobs (2016) calls the settlement between the apartheid regime and the African National Congress ‘the series of political, social and economic deals in which the racial inequalities of apartheid and wealth disparities largely remain intact and which benefits whites in general’. While the 1994 settlement has brought political change, it has not done much to tackle poverty and inequality, which is an all-too-common lived experience of the black majority. Thus, the student activists speak about disrupting ‘whiteness’ in society, the economy and at universities. The whiteness they are trying to disrupt has been imposed since colonial times as a ‘symbol of purity’ and has defined ‘what it means to be civilised, modern and human’ (Sardar 2008:xiii). This whiteness is still engaged in daily open and/or subtle racism and marginalisation of black people.

Nwadeyi (2016) argues that ‘colonialism, apartheid and other vehicles for entrenching white supremacy did not only affect political rights or economic freedoms’. They have affected every aspect of life and their effects and legacies are still entrenched in South Africa. Writing about Frantz Fanon’s works in a foreword to the 2008 edition of Black Skins, White Masks, Sardar (2008:xviii) admits that much has changed in the world since Fanon wrote this and other books. However, ‘the underlying structures of oppression and injustice remain the same’. This is particularly true in post-apartheid South Africa. Whereas political freedom was achieved in 1994, many structural imbalances, inequalities and injustices remain stumbling blocks for the emancipation of black South Africans. Institutions of higher learning are one of these stumbling blocks. As Sardar (2008) points out:

Riaz Haq said...

In Pakistan, English fiction is gathering pace in its search for approval and recognition
The number of writers and books is increasingly exponentially.

https://scroll.in/article/871234/in-pakistan-english-fiction-is-gathering-pace-in-its-search-for-approval-and-recognition

Authors of Pakistani origin writing in English are on fire abroad. And in Pakistan, they are igniting a frisson of excitement and minor pyrotechnics among their readership. It is a moment to celebrate. If this reviewer could create awards, say, the Herald’s Best Novels Awards 2017, these would go to Osama Siddique, for his superb, succinct yet vast book Snuffing Out the Moon, and to Sami Shah for Boy of Fire and Earth. With these exceptional novels, the two writers have changed the texture and tone of Pakistani English fiction.

Irrefutable evidence that possession, and being possessed, is the current state of Pakistani English literature can be found in The Djinn Falls in Love, a captivating collection of short stories edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin. Included in this collection are spellbinding and riveting stories by contemporary writers of Pakistani origin such as Sami Shah and Usman T Malik. Transformative? Yes.

Most of the authors getting attention are those who emerged on the international scene and are on their third or fourth novel. Mohsin Hamid with Exit West and Kamila Shamsie with Home Fire made it to the longlist for the Man Booker Prize in 2017. Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, too, was shortlisted for the Booker, in 2007.

Pakistani novelists located in Pakistan and abroad – at first mostly women; now increasingly women and men in equal numbers – have been writing in English for 70 years.
Getting noticed and unnoticed in unequal measure and owning this tongue of the Empire, they have been telling stories that chip away at boundaries and categories within ourselves and between “us” and “them”, the colonised and the coloniser, the post-Empire and the new empires.

The numbers are increasing exponentially. This alone is exhilarating. Over 100 writers have over 150 novels and many anthologies among them. But they have not necessarily written 150 different and good stories which resonate with an audience beyond a small elite group. And this may be because we cannot exorcise our colonial past or rise beyond our vantage points of birth.

-------------------

they have a tendency to be the sole spokesperson for Pakistan, speaking to a foreign power in the way it wants to be addressed and, in the process, strangulating and muffling all other voices. The urgency to be the native informant. Why is this so? The answer is complicated. It may boil down to geographical boundaries and political blueprints imposed on us by our colonial masters and the abused nature of our still-colonised society in a country that, to foreign interests, seems nothing more than a potash mine, a petroleum field or a port – the great plantation and its house slaves yearning not to be free.

Colonisation tends to keep on giving long after the colonisers have physically left. Literary careers are made in the nostalgia for it. The writers who are nostalgic about it are labelled as native informants mostly by those who are bitter about their success. These native informants, the accusations go, tend to continue having the out-of-body experience of never being able to be themselves. They can only see themselves through eyes that are not their own — always imagining and narrating reality in a way that might be pleasing to the colonial abuser. They pick up subjects that are pleasing to the abuser. They create characters that fit the characterisations created by the abuser. They stick to the dominant power’s narrative.

The novels that get praise abroad, and subsequently in Pakistan, promote narratives written in the tradition of taking cues from elsewhere and seeing Pakistan from a foreigner’s eyes. Even the websites for the authors published abroad do not mention reviews and interviews published in Pakistani magazines or newspapers.

Riaz Haq said...

Education In Pakistan And The Need For Dynamic Organic Curriculum

https://academiamag.com/education-pakistan-dynamic-organic-curriculum/

Education is the wholistic development of an individual. Intellectual, moral and emotional knowledge are crucial to achieve the end wherein a pupil becomes a socially responsible, compassionate and functional member of a society. Education is more than what any school can provide to a child, and the learning does not, cannot and should not stop once a child steps out school boundaries.

In most parts of the world, parents are encouraged to become every bit a part of a child’s educational journey and become key stakeholders in turning children into the finest specimens of humanity. But unfortunately in Pakistan, a peculiar and worrying trend is emerging; keeping curriculum a secret from the parents/families.

School teachers are handed out curriculum guidelines as set by various international examination boards, however, parents are increasingly not being allowed to review the syllabus under the pretext that sharing the curriculum feeds into the parental competition, causes unnecessary stress to the students as they are enrolled in extra tuition to get ahead and reduces the effectiveness of the teachers at school.

Not only are all these excuses merely trying to treat the symptoms, they also take away the ability of providing a more all-round learning experience as children cannot be engaged at home for reinforcement of any concepts that are under discussion at the school. The curriculum, resources, reference books, activities are now seen as the competitive advantage one school might have over another, leading to a very unhealthy trend and a race that neither serves the interests of students nor parents.

Monotony Rules The Roost
Besides the increasingly safeguarding and concealment of these ‘strategic’ resources, the curriculum guidelines laid out are itself confusing and have unrealistic expectations of school managements. Someone who has never met the teachers or a class of students, can hardly gauge the calibre of either; but still gets to decide how long each topic should take and how soon a class – of 2nd graders for example – should master the art of multiplying. At the same time, the guidelines conclude that the concept of division is beyond the cognitive capacity of a 7 year old.


The curriculum followed by most schools do not take into account the varying capabilities and learning curves of individual children. There is no regard for differing interests and inclinations. Students remain spectators that have no control over the flow of the game. Though the “One Size Fits All” approach serves administrative objectives of running a school, it in no way caters to individualized needs, requirements and progress of students.

--------------

Solution: Dynamic Organic Curriculum
The solution to this problem of our stagnant and didactic curriculum approach is two-pronged. First, the power to create, curate and adapt the curriculum needs to be shifted to the people who are closest to students and have a deep understanding of their learning styles, capabilities and cognitive boundaries. These include teachers, principals, and families [whoever is in a position to contribute owing to their own expertise and passion], and last but not the least, students themselves.

The other part of the solution is ensuring that the curriculum itself is flexible and can be personalised to the needs of each student. Individually. The one-size-fits all approach to education is now losing ground. We need to give way to students and allow them to author their own learning, at their own pace and according to their own interests. Apart from the core skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, the children need to be empowered with the ability to learn how they want to, and where they want to and when they want to.

Riaz Haq said...

Despicable #American #Media Coverage of #PakistanElections2018. US mainstream media has a voracious appetite for caricaturing, simplifying, and neatly categorizing non-Western people and life, especially #Muslims.
https://www.globalvillagespace.com/the-despicable-american-media-coverage-of-pakistan-elections/ via @GVS_News

There is a massive difference between a white American Anglo-Saxon Protestant’s galvanizing of white nationalism by inciting hate against minorities and the appeal to popular sovereignty by a political figure in a post-colonial society like Pakistan buried under the rubbles of neo-imperial power.


Take for instance an instructive example from the NY Times. After the elections, the title of an article on its twitter feed read as follows: “Is Imran Khan, a legendary cricket player and international sex symbol, about to become the leader of Pakistan, an Islamic republic with nuclear weapons?” And the editorial title read: “Nuclear-Armed Islamic Republic Gets Unpredictable New Leader.” These headlines and the commentaries that followed them toxically combine Islamophobia, Orientalist stereotyping, and copious expenditure of plain ignorance, verging on the bizarre.

They also smack of classic Orientalism: the insidious stereotyping of the East, the Orient, to establish the civilizational superiority of the West. Notice how the first title juxtaposes the image of the licentious brown body, unable to control its carnal desires, with that of the fanatic brown body, always on the precipice of violence. “A sex symbol with nuclear weapons:” how eerily analogous to 19th century Orientalist depictions of Muslims that sutured images of the sensually overflowing harem with that of the barbaric militant. Exoticization and dehumanization often go hand in hand.

Turning to Imran Khan, the newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister; it is true that in his younger years, he was an iconic and attractive cricketer with a massive global following among members of all genders. Yes, he did date multiple women and was widely admired and sought after, much like many other celebrities. But his dating life three to four decades ago is hardly even peripheral let alone central to his politics today. Yet, almost every Western, and sadly even many Indian commentaries on the Pakistani elections, have begun predictably, in the most hackneyed fashion, with a mention of Imran’s so-called “playboy” image and status during his long over cricketing years.

A far more important, ongoing, and relevant aspect of his non-political biography is his role as a leading philanthropist in Pakistan who established the biggest Cancer Hospital in the country in 1994, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital named after Khan’s mother who died of cancer, where a remarkable 70% patients have received free treatment for almost twenty-five years. He also established a leading university in rural Punjab, Namal University, where underprivileged students receive Bradford University degrees. These philanthropic achievements, a lot more central to Khan’s popularity among the Pakistani masses than his “sex appeal,” receive passing if any mention in the Western media. And the descriptor “unpredictable leader” for Khan is essentially a code word for a brown leader who is not an American stooge, like most of his predecessors.

Returning to the NY Times title: pause also at the phrase “an Islamic republic with nuclear weapons.” NY Times must remind its readers that we are talking about an “Islamic republic” lest they forget that this conversation is about the “Muslim other;” all other possible features and descriptions of a complicated country like Pakistan stand colonized by and reduced to its “Islamic-ness.” I wonder how often the Times has described Israel as a “Jewish state with nuclear weapons”?

Riaz Haq said...

Why the West craves materialism & why the East sticks to religion by Imran Khan

http://www.arabnews.com/node/217634

Publication Date:
Mon, 2002-01-14 03:00
My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.

I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal — the national poet of Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes.

Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.

Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were considered anachronism.

Science had replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it did not exist. All supernatural stuff was confined to the movies. Philosophers like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution had supposedly disproved the creation of men and hence religion, were read and revered.

Moreover, European history reflected its awful experience with religion. The horrors committed by the Christian clergy during the Inquisition era had left a powerful impact on the Western mind.

To understand why the West is so keen on secularism, one should go to places like Cordoba in Spain and see the torture apparatus used during the Spanish Inquisition. Also the persecution of scientists as heretics by the clergy had convinced the Europeans that all religions are regressive.

However, the biggest factor that drove people like me away from religion was the selective Islam practiced by most of its preachers. In short, there was a huge difference between what they practiced and what they preached. Also, rather than explaining the philosophy behind the religion, there was an overemphasis on rituals.

I feel that humans are different to animals. While, the latter can be drilled, humans need to be intellectually convinced. That is why the Qur’an constantly appeals to reason. The worst, of course, was the exploitation of Islam for political gains by various individuals or groups.

Hence, it was a miracle I did not become an atheist. The only reason why I did not was the powerful religious influence my mother wielded on me since my childhood. It was not so much out of conviction but love for her that I stayed a Muslim.

However, my Islam was selective. I accepted only parts of the religion that suited me. Prayers were restricted to Eid days and occasionally on Fridays, when my father insisted on taking me to the mosque with him.

All in all I was smoothly moving to becoming a Pukka Brown Sahib. After all I had the right credentials in terms of school, university and, above all, acceptability in the English aristocracy, something that our brown sahibs would give their lives for. So what led me to do a ‘lota’ on the Brown Sahib culture and instead become a ‘desi’?

Riaz Haq said...

Why the West craves materialism & why the East sticks to religion by Imran Khan

http://www.arabnews.com/node/217634

Publication Date:
Mon, 2002-01-14 03:00
My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.

I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal — the national poet of Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes.

Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.

Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were considered anachronism.

Science had replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it did not exist. All supernatural stuff was confined to the movies. Philosophers like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution had supposedly disproved the creation of men and hence religion, were read and revered.

Moreover, European history reflected its awful experience with religion. The horrors committed by the Christian clergy during the Inquisition era had left a powerful impact on the Western mind.

To understand why the West is so keen on secularism, one should go to places like Cordoba in Spain and see the torture apparatus used during the Spanish Inquisition. Also the persecution of scientists as heretics by the clergy had convinced the Europeans that all religions are regressive.

However, the biggest factor that drove people like me away from religion was the selective Islam practiced by most of its preachers. In short, there was a huge difference between what they practiced and what they preached. Also, rather than explaining the philosophy behind the religion, there was an overemphasis on rituals.

I feel that humans are different to animals. While, the latter can be drilled, humans need to be intellectually convinced. That is why the Qur’an constantly appeals to reason. The worst, of course, was the exploitation of Islam for political gains by various individuals or groups.

Hence, it was a miracle I did not become an atheist. The only reason why I did not was the powerful religious influence my mother wielded on me since my childhood. It was not so much out of conviction but love for her that I stayed a Muslim.

However, my Islam was selective. I accepted only parts of the religion that suited me. Prayers were restricted to Eid days and occasionally on Fridays, when my father insisted on taking me to the mosque with him.

All in all I was smoothly moving to becoming a Pukka Brown Sahib. After all I had the right credentials in terms of school, university and, above all, acceptability in the English aristocracy, something that our brown sahibs would give their lives for. So what led me to do a ‘lota’ on the Brown Sahib culture and instead become a ‘desi’?

Well it did not just happen overnight.

Firstly, the inferiority complex that my generation had inherited gradually went as I developed into a world-class athlete. Secondly, I was in the unique position of living between two cultures. I began to see the advantages and the disadvantages of both societies.

Riaz Haq said...

Why the West craves materialism & why the East sticks to religion by Imran Khan

http://www.arabnews.com/node/217634

Publication Date:
Mon, 2002-01-14 03:00

In Western societies, institutions were strong while they were collapsing in our country. However, there was an area where we were and still are superior, and that is our family life. I began to realize that this was the Western society’s biggest loss. In trying to free itself from the oppression of the clergy, they had removed both God and religion from their lives.

While science, no matter how much it progresses, can answer a lot of questions — two questions it will never be able to answer: One, what is the purpose of our existence and two, what happens to us when we die?

It is this vacuum that I felt created the materialistic and the hedonistic culture. If this is the only life then one must make hay while the sun shines — and in order to do so one needs money. Such a culture is bound to cause psychological problems in a human being, as there was going to be an imbalance between the body and the soul.

Consequently, in the US, which has shown the greatest materialistic progress while giving its citizens numerous rights, almost 60 percent of the population consult psychiatrists. Yet, amazingly in modern psychology, there is no study of the human soul. Sweden and Switzerland, who provide the most welfare to their citizens, also have the highest suicide rates. Hence, man is not necessarily content with material well being and needs something more.

Since all morality has it roots in religion, once religion was removed, immorality has progressively grown since the 70s. Its direct impact has been on family life. In the UK, the divorce rate is 60 percent, while it is estimated that there are over 35 percent single mothers. The crime rate is rising in almost all Western societies, but the most disturbing fact is the alarming increase in racism. While science always tries to prove the inequality of man (recent survey showing the American Black to be genetically less intelligent than whites) it is only religion that preaches the equality of man.

Between 1991 and 1997, it was estimated that total immigration into Europe was around 520,000, and there were racially motivated attacks all over, especially in Britain, France and Germany. In Pakistan during the Afghan war, we had over four million refugees, and despite the people being so much poorer, there was no racial tension.

There was a sequence of events in the 80s that moved me toward God as the Qur’an says: "There are signs for people of understanding." One of them was cricket. As I was a student of the game, the more I understood the game, the more I began to realize that what I considered to be chance was, in fact, the will of Allah. A pattern which became clearer with time. But it was not until Salman Rushdie’s "Satanic Verses" that my understanding of Islam began to develop.

People like me who were living in the Western world bore the brunt of anti-Islam prejudice that followed the Muslim reaction to the book. We were left with two choices: fight or flight. Since I felt strongly that the attacks on Islam were unfair, I decided to fight. It was then I realized that I was not equipped to do so as my knowledge of Islam was inadequate. Hence I started my research and for me a period of my greatest enlightenment. I read scholars like Ali Shariati, Muhammad Asad, Iqbal, Gai Eaton, plus of course, a study of Qur’an.

I will try to explain as concisely as is possible, what "discovering the truth" meant for me. When the believers are addressed in the Qur’an, it always says, "Those who believe and do good deeds." In other words, a Muslim has dual function, one toward God and the other toward fellow human beings.

The greatest impact of believing in God for me, meant that I lost all fear of human beings. The Qur’an liberates man from man when it says that life and death and respect and humiliation are God’s jurisdiction, so we do not have to bow before other human beings.

Riaz Haq said...

“Treated like royalty”: What it’s like to be a #white #expat in #India.They assume I am very successful by virtue of the pigmentation of my skin. #racism #inferiority #BritishRaj https://qz.com/india/1414490/ via @qzindia

Despite wearing a sun-faded t-shirt, oil-stained shorts, and chappals that look like an elephant used them to walk around.

It’s curious. At times I enjoy it and play along, using elaborate language and speaking in an American accent rather than the neutral one I’ve developed over my many years of living abroad.

Other times, I’d love to just be like one of the locals and not be treated any differently.

But the fun thing about it is that I can get away with wearing whatever I want—something I wouldn’t feel comfortable with if I were in the US.

I remember staying in a hotel in Chennai and the two managers, both wearing glossy suits, chatting with me about their work, the hotel, and the nature of my “business.”

They assumed I was very successful by virtue of the pigmentation of my skin. I wanted to tell them that I’m just an average guy who freelances as a writer, spends time with his family, and likes to watch people, animals, (and) trees and then write about them.

Imagine the looks on their faces if I’d said I was a college dropout.

I ended up fibbing something about having some kind of business in the US because I wanted to get away from the conversation without drawing further attention to myself.

Whenever I visited the house of a friend—especially someone uneducated from a rural area—it would be a huge deal.

Children would stop playing and gape at me. The neighbors would come and see me, say hi, and quiz me to find out whether I can really speak their language or not.

And my host would smile proudly at everyone as if to say, “See, I am so important that even foreigners visit me!”

Riaz Haq said...

Pulitzer prize-winner Nicholas Kristof accused of '#racist #imperialist logic'. It’s easy to imagine #Trump agreeing with some of his ideas about the inherent vice of certain people from certain countries. #xenophobia #misogyny #Islamophobia @alternet https://www.alternet.org/pulitzer-prize-winning-journalist-nicholas-kristof-accused-racist-and-imperialist-logic-ahead-global#.W_9elTvdRkY.twitter


In Feminist Accountability: Disrupting Violence and Transforming Power (December, NYU Press), Ann Russo, associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at DePaul University, offers an intersectional analysis that includes chapters on “Disrupting Whiteness,” “Shifting Paradigms to End Violence,” and “Disentangling US Feminism from US Imperialism.”

In the last section, “Resisting the ‘Savior’ Complex,” Russo recalls how Kristof—in his 2009 book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, written with his wife Sheryl WuDunn—”portray[s] the men from the global south as either inherently brutal and violent, or lazy and irresponsible (both constructions synchronistic with the portrayal of men of color and immigrant men from the global south in the dominant culture of the United States).”


------

“In many poor countries, the problem is not so much individual thugs and rapists but an entire culture of sexual predation,” Kristof asserts. Kristof and WuDunn describe Ethiopia as “where kidnapping and raping girls is a time-honored tradition” and Congo as the “world capital of rape.”

“No doubt the widespread rape and sexual violence against women in the Congo is horrific,” Russo counters, “but [Kristof and WuDunn] explain it as a cultural problem, rather than a social and political [one].” With this myopic focus, they “obscure the role of the United States in fueling this endemic violence and the ongoing instability of the country and thus avoid any consideration of US accountability. For example, [when they discuss the Congo], Kristof and WuDunn do not tell us that our deep dependence on these mineral resources is, in part, what fuels the ongoing conflicts and violence in the region.”

In his win-a-trip contest announcement, Kristof writes that applicants who “don’t look like” him are “welcome.” That may be so. But a pro forma “welcome” can’t erase the impact of the broad strokes with which he has painted whole swaths of people.

This was a problem in 2009. Now, with Trump in the White House, it’s more important than ever to get rid of the myth of the good white liberal savior for once and for all, and stand in opposition to what Russo describes as Kristof’s “ethnocentrist, racist and imperialist logic.”

Riaz Haq said...

In Pakistan, patriotism has become an epithet
Nation needs individual, collective conscience towards positivity and patriotism


Presentation of a true picture of the flaws and weaknesses of a country, in this case, Pakistan, is one thing. Constant is the flagellation of Pakistan’s present reality in which much is being done to address and redress the ills that has beset it for long, and the new direction in which the theoretical and the actual emphasis is on a positive and a constructive overhauling of the entire system.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/in-pakistan-patriotism-has-become-an-epithet-1.1547630684380

Non-stop are the attacks that are devised and hurled at the behest of political opposition, which pushed into a painful and a very unexpected cul-de-sac of accountability of their misdeeds and corruption believe that offence is the best defence.

There is deliberate blurring of a line between a gratuitous attack and a legitimate raising of a point, a personal attack and constructive criticism, malicious rubbishing of a good initiative and a healthy debate on its merits and demerits, and disdainful mockery of a failed idea or programme and a calculated shredding-to-bits the good intentions of the government.

Pakistan needs its liberals and its enlightened and its commentators and its politicians to NOT be blind to its flaws, camouflage its black spots and white-wash its past.

Pakistan needs to be aware of all its bad, and find a way forward.

Pakistan needs its individual and collective conscience to not be agenda-driven but to be from a consciousness of positivity and patriotism.

AND: Patriotism is not jingoism. Patriotism is a mechanism of deep introspection, stock-taking of the reality, unity, collaboration of the opposites, forward-thinking inspiration, and refinement of a system of policy and implementation that while taking the inglorious past as the barometer of what not to do forges a roadmap that is clear, practical and farsighted.

Patriotism is asking all stakeholders–government, opposition, armed forces, establishment, higher judiciary–hard questions, and expecting answers.

Patriotism is not the exclusion of the negatives, it is about inclusion of the positives.

Patriotism is lessons from the past and celebration of the good in the present.

Patriotism: Twisted definition
Patriotism cannot be enforced upon you; patriotism is the love, like that for your family — you have for your country with all its beauty and scars and sparkle and warts and the good and the skeletons in the closet.

In Pakistan of today, patriotism has become an epithet, in an unscrupulous twisting of its definition mixing it with hyper-nationalism and xenophobia.

And it is not just the bigots and the fascists and the fundamentalists who are doing it.

The glass is empty today. That makes me deeply sad. And stronger. Something’s gotta give.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to look beyond the glass. Pakistan’s reality is much more than that. Pakistan does not have a single story.

Riaz Haq said...

Orientalist discourse in media texts
Necla Mora*


https://www.j-humansciences.com/ojs/index.php/IJHS/article/view/857

Abstract
By placing itself at the center of the world with a Eurocentric point of view, the West
exploits other countries and communities through inflicting cultural change and
transformation on them either from within via colonialist movements or from outside via
“Orientalist” discourses in line with its imperialist objectives.
The West has fictionalized the “image of the Orient” in terms of science by making use of
social sciences like anthropology, history and philology and launched an intensive
propaganda which covers literature, painting, cinema and other fields of art in order to
actualize this fiction. Accordingly, the image of the Orient – which has been built firstly in
terms of science then socially – has been engraved into the collective memory of both the
Westerner and the Easterner.
The internalized “Orientalist” point of view and discourse cause the West to see and perceive
the East with the image formed in its memory while looking at them. The East represents and
expresses itself from the eyes of the West and with the image which the West fictionalized
for it.
The East, which tries to shape itself into the “Orientalist” mold which the West fictionalized
for it in order to gain acceptance from the West, both serves to reproduce “Orientalist”
discourse by internalizing it and fictionalizes and reproduces its own East discourse to form
its own hegemony in symbolic terms.
Keywords: Media, Orientalism, Internalized Orientalism

Riaz Haq said...

Practical Orientalism in Mass Media: An Analysis of the Media Reporting in
Relation to the Sexual Assaults in Cologne by the German TV Channel ZDF

http://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=8877167&fileOId=8877171


In the present thesis I analyse the image of the Oriental or the Other in German public-service
media reporting. In times of the refugee crisis, right-wing movements strengthening in several
European countries and Islamist extremist terrorist threats, the West is confronted with the
question of integrating people from other cultures. The discussion about the sexual assaults in
Cologne from 31 December 2015 is an interesting subject in terms of how media portrays the
Other in regards to Orientalist views. I am interested in which cultural differences are being
referred to and whether Orientalism is implemented through mass media. I identify several
Orientalist motives from Edward Said’s book on Orientalism and investigate whether I can find
these traces of Orientalism in media coverage in relation to the assaults.
For this I conduct a content analysis of the reporting regarding the assaults in Cologne
from the German tv channel ZDF on 7 and 8 January 2016. Furthermore, I add a qualitative
analysis of selected material from the same channel and concerning the same issue. I link the
results to the Orientalist motives and discuss whether one can speak of an implemented or
Practical Orientalism through mass media. From the results it comes to light that cultural
differences are only little discussed. If that is the case they concern gender roles and women’s
image or role. From both analyses I find some traces of Orientalism in the media coverage. In
conclusion I state that Orientalist views exist in media coverage from ZDF in relation to the
assaults in Cologne. Consequently, Practical Orientalism is implemented by mass media.

Riaz Haq said...

Demonization of Islam and Orientalism in Western media

Written by Jasmina Eminic Categorised A Different View

In the late seventies, Edward Said published his prominent work Orientalism, in which he, among other things, exposed and criticized western inaccurate attitudes and portrayals of Orient cultures. More than thirty years later, his work fits in current media and society frenzy perfectly, as we are witnessing intensive process of demonizing Islam and its followers throughout western hemisphere.

Biased attitude toward unfamiliar has always been a part of our societies, but hatred and misunderstanding of Islam has worsened substantially following 9/11 attacks. Worldwide war on terror, led by US, has brought many moral issues to the forefront. In a very dark decade for human rights and fundamental freedoms it seems that clash of civilizations has indeed come to our doorsteps.

Recent events and their portrayal serve as a perfect example. Two hideous attacks have happened this year. In first, twelve French people, who worked for provocative satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, were killed in cold blood. In second attack three people were gunned down in their home in USA. Portrayed like this, they do not seem to substantially differ; yet, western media perceived them as two very different stories, first being depicted as an act of terror, receiving wide coverage, while the second one was committed by ‘lone wolf’ and, in opinion of mainstream media, did not deserve special exposure.

Language is a powerful tool for manipulation of masses and media is crucial in the formation of public opinion. It is thus not trivial how above mentioned events have been depicted, quite contrary; it illustrates the state of which western societies are currently in regarding intercultural understanding and acceptance. While the attack on Charlie Hebdo received worldwide attention, substantial reporting and even special hashtag, the deaths of three Muslims were not deemed as important, even though the evidence showed it was almost certainly a hate crime.

This does not illustrate just the ignorance and bias of media, but has a deeper meaning. It is a mirror of a society we currently live in; a society in which Muslim lives are apparently not as important as lives of other Europeans, Americans etc.; which sees Muslims as uncivilized and inherently violent; where there is a difference between crimes committed by Muslims on one hand and non-Muslims on the other. This is a result of how societies in West are being socialized believing that Islam is inferior, savage and irrational system of beliefs, with extremist followers more then ready to kill in the name of their God. Obviously, those kind of people do not fit in our modern, civilized societies based on democracy and rule of law. These stereotypical depictions of Islam and Muslims are disseminated and reinforced by media channels, which manipulate and strengthen the views and beliefs of society.

Postcolonialism explains demonization of Islam with concepts of orientalism, imperialism and (neo)colonialism. West needed justification for subordination of East, thus depictions of Orient as inferior, undeveloped and uncivilized. These inaccurate and Eurocentric cultural representations have persisted and developed into stereotypes we are very familiar with today and represent an important foundation of current conflicts in western societies as well as around the world. In the terms of postcolonialism we can argue that Islam being demonized is in interest of imperialism and colonial practices of West, which are still very much present in contemporary world despite being more subtle than in the colonial era. East is still subject of colonial forces and imperialistic interests, orientalism being one of the foundations of these practices. Demonization of Islam serves the imperialistic ambitions of political elites in West, which act on behalf of capitalist greed and multinational businesses.

Riaz Haq said...

Positive and Negative Liberty

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/

Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities.

The idea of distinguishing between a negative and a positive sense of the term ‘liberty’ goes back at least to Kant, and was examined and defended in depth by Isaiah Berlin in the 1950s and ’60s. Discussions about positive and negative liberty normally take place within the context of political and social philosophy. They are distinct from, though sometimes related to, philosophical discussions about free will. Work on the nature of positive liberty often overlaps, however, with work on the nature of autonomy.

As Berlin showed, negative and positive liberty are not merely two distinct kinds of liberty; they can be seen as rival, incompatible interpretations of a single political ideal. Since few people claim to be against liberty, the way this term is interpreted and defined can have important political implications. Political liberalism tends to presuppose a negative definition of liberty: liberals generally claim that if one favors individual liberty one should place strong limitations on the activities of the state. Critics of liberalism often contest this implication by contesting the negative definition of liberty: they argue that the pursuit of liberty understood as self-realization or as self-determination (whether of the individual or of the collectivity) can require state intervention of a kind not normally allowed by liberals.

Many authors prefer to talk of positive and negative freedom. This is only a difference of style, and the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ are normally used interchangeably by political and social philosophers. Although some attempts have been made to distinguish between liberty and freedom (Pitkin 1988; Williams 2001; Dworkin 2011), generally speaking these have not caught on. Neither can they be translated into other European languages, which contain only the one term, of either Latin or Germanic origin (e.g. liberté, Freiheit), where English contains both.

Riaz Haq said...

The Enlightenment’s Dark Side
How the Enlightenment created modern race thinking, and why we should confront it.
By JAMELLE BOUIE

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/06/taking-the-enlightenment-seriously-requires-talking-about-race.html

The Enlightenment is having a renaissance, of sorts. A handful of centrist and conservative writers have reclaimed the 17th- and 18th-century intellectual movement as a response to nationalism and ethnic prejudice on the right and relativism and “identity politics” on the left. Among them are Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist who sees himself as a bulwark against the forces of “chaos” and “postmodernism”; Steven Pinker, the Harvard cognitive psychologist who argues, in Enlightenment Now, for optimism and human progress against those “who despise the Enlightenment ideals of reason, science, humanism, and progress”; and conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg, who, in Suicide of the West, argues in defense of capitalism and Enlightenment liberalism, twin forces he calls “the Miracle” for creating Western prosperity.

In their telling, the Enlightenment is a straightforward story of progress, with major currents like race and colonialism cast aside, if they are acknowledged at all. Divorced from its cultural and historical context, this “Enlightenment” acts as an ideological talisman, less to do with contesting ideas or understanding history, and more to do with identity. It’s a standard, meant to distinguish its holders for their commitment to “rationalism” and “classical liberalism.”


But even as they venerate the Enlightenment, these writers actually underestimate its influence on the modern world. At its heart, the movement contained a paradox: Ideas of human freedom and individual rights took root in nations that held other human beings in bondage and were then in the process of exterminating native populations. Colonial domination and expropriation marched hand in hand with the spread of “liberty,” and liberalism arose alongside our modern notions of race and racism.

It took the scientific thought of the Enlightenment to create an enduring racial taxonomy and the “color-coded, white-over-black” ideology with which we are familiar.
These weren’t incidental developments or the mere remnants of earlier prejudice. Race as we understand it—a biological taxonomy that turns physical difference into relations of domination—is a product of the Enlightenment. Racism as we understand it now, as a socio-political order based on the permanent hierarchy of particular groups, developed as an attempt to resolve the fundamental contradiction between professing liberty and upholding slavery. Those who claim the Enlightenment’s mantle now should grapple with that legacy and what it means for our understanding of the modern world.

To say that “race” and “racism” are products of the Enlightenment is not to say that humans never held slaves or otherwise classified each other prior to the 18th century. Recent scholarship shows how proto- and early forms of modern race thinking (you could call them racialism) existed in medieval Europe, with near-modern forms taking shape in the 15th and 16th centuries. In Spain, for example, we see the turn from anti-Judaism to anti-Semitism, where Jewish ancestry itself was grounds for suspicion, versus Jewish practice. And as historian George Fredrickson notes in Racism: A Short History, “the prejudice and discrimination directed at the Irish on one side of Europe and certain Slavic peoples on the other foreshadowed the dichotomy between civilization and savagery that would characterize imperial expansion beyond the European continent.” One can find nascent forms of all of these ideas in antiquity—indeed, early modern thinkers drew from all of these sources to build our notion of race.

Riaz Haq said...

How the #British Empire abandoned Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the translator of the #Quran and Britain's most vocal #Muslim supporter. In his talks and articles throughout the war, he urged fellow Muslims to side with the British against #Ottoman #Turks @TRTWorld https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/how-the-british-empire-abandoned-its-most-vocal-muslim-supporter-29488

In 1915, during World War I, the British faced a dilemma. Nearly half a million soldiers were Muslims from the Indian Subcontinent — modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — which was then under colonial rule. Some refused to fight the Turkish Ottoman soldiers who had joined the war against the allied army.

A mutiny broke out in November of that year in Singapore where Indian Muslim soldiers turned their guns on officers and took control of the island. The uprising was quickly crushed and 70 Muslim men were lined up against a wall and executed.

The events shook British officials. Many Muslims considered the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed Reshad as their Caliph. Their personal affinity and strong connection led to the Khilafat Movement in India that called for boycotting the British.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali thought otherwise.

“Fight ye glorious soldiers, Gurkha, Sikh or Muslim, Rajput or Brahman!” he said in a November 1914 speech at a London event in front of top British military officials. “You have comrades in the British army whose fellowship and lead are a priceless possession to you.”

In his talks and articles throughout the war, he urged fellow Muslims to side with the British, at times doing it so effusively that his rhetoric appeared jingoistic.

“The Ottoman Caliph announces Jihad against the British and what does Yusuf Ali do? He goes around European countries asking Muslims to fight for the British,” Humayun Ansari, a professor of Islam at the University of London, told TRT World.

“He was consistently loyal to the British and considered the British Empire to be a blessing. In his understanding of Islam he was very liberal. He wanted a reconciliation between the Muslim and Western philosophy.”

Yusuf Ali was born in 1871 in Surat, western India, during a period of great introspection for the Muslims of India as their rule over the region for centuries came to an end and they were at the mercy of the English and a more politically organised Hindu majority.

Among the Muslims there was a realisation that they would have to study English, attain a modern education and learn British ways to get government jobs and regain their lost social status.

Yusuf Ali, who came from a middle-class family, proved to be an exceptional student throughout his school years and after matriculating from a missionary school, he won a scholarship to study at Cambridge University in London. The scholarship was given to only nine Indian students each year.

“We have to look at him in the context of his times. That was a generation when the British claimed superiority over the natives. And then you have somebody who can emerge and beat them at their own game,” says Jamil Sherif, who wrote Yusuf Ali’s biography titled Searching for Solace.

“Yusuf Ali’s approach was to show through his writing that Islam had made major contributions through the ages. But I think his compromise was that he saw religion mainly in spiritual terms and he saw socio-political dimensions of Islam as not really relevant in the days of empire,” he told TRT World.

At Cambridge, Yusuf Ali excelled in English composition, Arabic and other subjects. He also cleared the intensely competitive exam for the elite Indian Civil Service (ICS). In subsequent years, he rose to become perhaps the highest-ranking Muslim civil servant in India when he worked under Cabinet’s member of finance.

He was a devout Muslim, making sure he offered daily prayers, attended religious congregations and led prayers at the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, a town near London.

Riaz Haq said...

Edward Said was really disappointed when he met Sartre, Foucault and De Beauvoir

https://stepfeed.com/edward-said-was-really-disappointed-when-he-met-sartre-foucault-and-de-beauvoir-8119


Said was fascinated by French philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Michel Foucault.

Eager to discover the three philosophers’ perspectives on the Arab region's issues, Said was thrilled when he received an invitation from de Beauvoir and Sartre in 1979 to attend a conference on the Middle East in Paris.

“It might just as well have been an invitation from Cosima and Richard Wagner to come to Bayreuth, or from T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf to spend an afternoon at the offices of the Dial,” he recalls in his diary.

When Said reached Paris, he was surprised to learn that the proceedings had been shifted to Foucault’s house for ambiguously unexplained security reasons. The next few days continued in the same chaotic manner.

The themes of the event had been chosen by an acquaintance of Sartre without consulting with any of the participants. None of the Arab scholars were happy with the selected topics “covering more or less familiar ground, with no real meeting of minds” and neglecting the struggle of the Palestinians.

“It soon enough became clear that Israel’s enhancement was the real subject of the meeting, not the Arabs or the Palestinians,” Said wrote.

Such was the attitude of Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Foucault, Said discovered.

Even though Said and Foucault chatted amiably - and Said was pleased to see one of his books on the latter's bookshelves - Foucault was reluctant to discuss anything regarding the Middle East.

Stories of Foucault leaving Tunisia - where he was a professor in the philosophy department at the University of Tunis - were never proven completely. A fellow professor told Said that Foucault left after anti-Israel riots filled the streets in Tunisia, while others suggested his homosexual activities with students was the reason he was deported from the country.

Pro-Palestine French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, had also told Said that he had fallen out with Foucault because of the latter’s Zionist views.

Based on such accounts, Said assumed that Foucault’s reluctance to discuss Arab affairs was due to his anti-Palestinian sentiments.

As for de Beauvoir, Said remembers her as “lecturing anyone who would listen about her forthcoming trip to Teheran with Kate Millett, where they were planning to demonstrate against the chador."

To the Palestinian-American writer, who had been looking forward to discussions with her, the idea seemed “patronising and silly” and he soon realized that she was vain and beyond arguing with.

Despite the disappointment in de Beauvoir and the strange encounter with Foucault, Said still maintained high expectations of his hero Sartre.

After all, he had opposed his own country’s occupation of Algeria, a position that “as a Frenchman must have been harder to hold than a position critical of Israel.”

However, he was wrong. Sartre was a staunch supporter of Israel. In fact, his pro-Zionist views had ruptured his friendship with the pro-Palestine French novelist Jean Genet.

The Existentialist thinker showed up late and contributed little to the seminar. Sartre praised the former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who had just signed the Camp David Accords - a peace agreement between Egypt and Isreal - with no mention of the Palestinian struggle.

Said was “shattered” to discover that “the justice of the Arab cause simply could not make an impression on [Sartre] … whether that was because he was afraid of seeming anti-semitic, or because he felt guilt about the Holocaust, or because he allowed himself no deep appreciation of the Palestinians as victims … or for some other reason, I shall never know.”