Tuesday, October 17, 2017

John McCain came out swinging at 'half-baked, spurious nationalism' in Philadelphia speech

Sen. John McCain of Arizona set rhetorical fire to what he called "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in a speech in Philadelphia.
McCain was there to accept the National Constitution Center's Liberty Medal, in recognition of his decades of service to the US. Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the honor on Monday evening.
"To refuse the obligations of international leadership, and our duty to remain the last, best hope of Earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems," McCain said, as the audience erupted in a raucous applause.
McCain said that kind of nationalism "is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."
"We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil," McCain declared, referencing the racist ideologies of Nazi Germany that have resurfaced in the midst of the current white-nationalist movement in the US.
"We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't," McCain continued.
The senator's critical remarks on Monday did not mention any specific people, but his assertions were not lost on his audience in light of Donald Trump's raucous 2016 campaign and the first nine months of his presidency, in which he and his administration have pursued a decidedly nationalist-leaning agenda.
Since he took office in January, Trump has sought to toughen US immigration laws, implemented an aggressive travel ban targeting people from specific countries, and moved to dissociate the US from landmark international agreements like the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal.
That agenda has been informed in part by Trump's former chief strategist, the far-right conservative figure, Steve Bannon, who was kicked out of the administration in August, but has since generated momentum in his push to declare war on establishment Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
That movement has taken a disturbing turn in recent months, as seen in places like Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white-nationalist rally turned deadly this past summer.
Trump's equivocations in response to the violence there only fueled speculation that Trump was sympathetic to the nationalist, white-supremacist cause. His handing of Charlottesville invited fiery criticism from both the Republican and Democratic parties, and dealt a significant blow to the president's approval ratings in the weeks that followed.

Monday, October 16, 2017

An appeal from Burma Task Force, USA

Real genocide is taking place in Burma, while most of us are legitimately worried about refugees in Bangladesh who have survived the genocide.

All reports say now Burmese military is starving Rohingyas into death. No one is allowed to take food to them. An estimated 250,000 are detained in the old and the new camps what the New York Times called "the 21st-century concentration camps".

Please read:

Since the remaining Rohingya are in the custody of the Myanmar government, it is responsible for their wellbeing and it must take care of them.

Another 250,000 are trapped in the mountains or forests, or on the seacoast trying to get to Bangladesh. And of course, those who survived by reaching Bangladesh, are in a terrible situation themselves. See below what you can do about them.

3 Clear Asks

After meeting the top government officials of four different countries, including the US and Canada, as well as the UN leadership, we firmly believe that the following 3 point agenda that we have developed is the only right course of action for all those who are willing to stop this genocide:
  1. Call it a Genocide: Determine that it is a genocide, as French President has said, to enable the genocide treaty and R2P to come in  to action.
  2. Establish a Safe Zone: Support the only suggestion on the table offered by the Bangladesh Prime Minister: Establish a safe zone inside Burma with the UN peacekeepers to defend Rohingyas if attacked, until the Kofi Annan recommendations facilitate restoration of Rohingya citizenship and their rights as equal citizens.
  3. Allow Access to Relief:
    • Support full sanctions on Myanmar, minus food and medicine, until they  allow full access to the UN and humanitarian relief and restore the citizenship of Rohingyas.
    • Airlift urgently needed shelter, food supplies, and medicine to Bangladesh with transport helicopters for distribution.

Rohingya Exodus: Fleeing Violence in Myanmar

Half a million Rohingya Muslims have poured over the Myanmar border into Bangladesh in the last seven weeks, fleeing ethnic violence.

                     Rohingya refugees carry their belongings as they walk on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River after fleeing Myanmar, on Oct. 2, 2017, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

More than half a million Rohingya refugees have fled an offensive by Myanmar's military that the United Nations has called 'a textbook example of ethnic cleansing'. The refugee population is expected to swell further, with thousands more Rohingya Muslims said to be making the perilous journey on foot toward the border, or paying smugglers to take them across by water in wooden boats.
Hundreds are known to have died trying to escape, and survivors arrive with horrifying accounts of villages burned, women raped, and scores killed in the 'clearance operations' by Myanmar's army and Buddhist mobs that were sparked by militant attacks on security posts in Rakhine state on Aug. 25.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
A Rohingya refugee boy is carried in a basket by a relative after crossing the border on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River on Sept. 24.
What the Rohingya refugees flee to is a different kind of suffering in sprawling makeshift camps rife with fears of malnutrition, cholera, and other diseases. Aid organizations are struggling to keep pace with the scale of need and the staggering number of them - an estimated 60 percent - who are children arriving alone.
Bangladesh, whose acceptance of the refugees has been praised by humanitarian officials for saving lives, has urged the creation of an internationally-recognized 'safe zone' where refugees can return, though Rohingya Muslims have long been persecuted in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.
World leaders are still debating how to confront the country and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who championed democracy, but now appears unable or unwilling to stop the army's brutal crackdown.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
A Rohingya refugee woman is helped from a boat as she arrives exhausted on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River at Shah Porir Dwip on Oct. 1.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Rohingya refugees carry their belongings as they walk through water on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River on Sept. 28.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
                         7. A Rohingya refugee boy desperate for aid cries as he climbs on a truck distributing aid for a local NGO near the Balukali refugee camp on Sept. 20.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
                         12. A Rohingya refugee woman is carried by relatives near the border on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River on Oct. 2.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Frayer / Getty Images
A woman carries the body of a Rohingya refugee boy as others are seen wrapped in white sheets prior to burial after they died when their boat capsized while fleeing Myanmar on Sept. 29.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
An elderly Rohingya refugees woman sits outside her shelter in the sprawling Balukali refugee camp on Sept. 22.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
A Rohingya refugee washes at a well at the Palongkali refugee camp on Sept. 26.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
A Rohingya refugee woman holds her child as she stands outside her shelter at the sprawling Balukali refugee camp on Sept. 27.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

18. A Rohingya refugee family reacts as they disembark from a boat after arriving on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River at night on Sept. 26.

Pictures of genocide of the Rohingyas, drawn by refugee children

 Drawing by a Rohingya boy, Abdul, revealing the horrific experiences he endured while fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the children friendly space at the Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, the children of Rohingya refugees are making pictures.
That activity may seem perfectly normal. Except the pictures they are making show the horrors the children experienced recently as they fled Myanmar.
Anthony Lake is the executive director of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. He spoke with reporters earlier this month in the Bangladeshi town of Cox’s Bazar. He said that experts believe one way for children to deal with the bad things they remember is to have them draw pictures.
The Rohingya refugees have made pictures of homes being set on fire; of helicopters shooting from the sky; and families running away from gunfire and men armed with knives.
Lake noted that, at some refugee camps, children make happy pictures. But the pictures from the Rohingya boys and girls reflect the terrible things they saw.
Drawing by a Rohingya boy, Kashem, revealing horrific experiences he endured while fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
Drawing by a Rohingya boy, Kashem, revealing horrific experiences he endured while fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
“The pictures we have seen here are horrifying,” the UNICEF chief said. “They reflect children seeing things that no child should ever see, much less endure.”
Lake said he spoke with one boy who said he saw other children killed while they were playing football.
“Imagine if you were a child, and you saw that, how long would it take you to recover from that, if you ever could?” he asked.
Myanmar’s army and the civilian government have repeatedly denied claims that the armed forces are harming civilians. They say they will investigate reports of atrocities if evidence is presented to them.
Late last month, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi announced that military operations were suspended after September 5. But people continue crossing the border into Bangladesh. Many new arrivals are likely searching for food.
UNICEF says more than half of the refugees are children, and half of them are under five years old.
One UNICEF official gave a VOA reporter drawings she said were made by children in the Balukhali camp who went to the group’s “child-friendly centers.”
The children who made them are from six to 14 years old, and all were produced over the past few weeks.
Myanmar’s Rakhine State is close to Bangladesh. The area has been largely closed off to aid groups and foreign observers since August 25.
Last month, Myanmar’s government flew reporters to Rakhine to see where a large number of Hindu residents were buried. The government claims the Hindus were victims of the rebel Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
The group denied the claim.
Last Monday, the Myanmar government gave permission for a group of diplomats and U.N. officials to visit Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township. In a tweet, one diplomat said the area looked like “a ghost town.”
I’m Dan Friedell.

Joe Freeman reported this story for VOANews.com. Dan Friedell adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
What do you think of the drawings by Rohingya children? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Press Release from ARNO condemning Myanmar's military chief for distorting history

Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)
Press release 15 October 2017

How Long Will You Lie To Deny Rohingya Existence
We strongly condemn the remarks of Myanmar Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing to American Ambassador Scot Marciel.

On 11 October the General said, “Rohingya are Bengali. The Bengalis were not taken into the country by Myanmar but by the colonialists. British colonialists were responsible for the problem. Their native place is really Bengal. They might have fled to the other country (Bangladesh) with the same language, race and culture as theirs, assuming they would be safer there. They are not the natives and the records prove that they were not even called Rohingya but just Bengalis during the colonial period.”

But the historical evidence or observation by Scottish doctor Francis Buchanan in 1795 proves “... Mohammedans, who have long been settled in Arakan, and who called themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan” The former Democratic government of Burma headed by Prime Minister U Nu had recognized Rohingya as an ethnic group of Burma equal to all other ethnic nationalities of the country. On top of that, as a people, the Rohingya have the UN-recognized group's right to self-identify.

We remind Myanmar civil and military leaders that the true history of Arakan must be studied with minus Bama/Myanmar if they sincerely want to know the Rohingya historicity. Arakan was an independent country for centuries having extensive relations with Bengal (not with Burma) in all fields, political, ethnological, cultural and economic activities. It was Muslims who paid extraordinary contribution to the development of Arakan, with their sublime civilization, towards advancement of administration, literature, agriculture and economic activities.
We emphasize that the ancient people of Arakan were Indian Bengalis and the language then used had no connection with the present Rakhine, who have been largely Burmanized in language, culture and life style. Here the root cause of the problem in Arakan is the Burman annexation of it.  That is why the Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen said, “Rohingya did not come to Burma. But the Burma came to Rohingya”.

We reiterate that Arakan is our ancestral homeland, where Muslim rule and influence lasted for centuries particularly during the glorious period of Mrauk-U dynasty (1430-1784). Followings are some of the realities of Arakan.
  1. Arakan was virtually ruled by Muslims from 1430 to 1531.(Statement of Col. Ba Shin, the then Chairman of the Burma Historical Commission)
  2. Islam spread and deeply rooted in Arakan since 8th century from where it further spread into interior Burma”. (Sasana Ronwas Htunzepho, a book published by military regime in 1997)
  3. The Mrauk dynasty was a new golden age of power and prosperity with hybrid Buddhist-Islamic court, fusing tradition from Persia and India as well as the Buddhist worlds to the east.
  4. Muslim etiquettes and manners, system of administration copying the imperial courts of Delhi and Guar had been practiced. Taslim or Muslim salutation was performed in the king’s palace.
  5. The Muslim played the phenomenal rule of kingmakers with Muslim Prime Ministers, Lashkar Wizirs (Defence/War Ministers), and Ministers, Qadis, other administrators and large contingents of Muslim army. 
  6. The kings had involuntarily as well as voluntarily to adopt Muslim names and titles “Shah” “in addition to Pali names and titles. Mrauk-U kings appeared in Persian-inspired dress and the conical hats of Isfahan and Mughal Delhi.
  7. Members of the Royal families and class of persons enjoying superior intellectual or social or economic status also willingly adopted Muslim names.
  8. Muslim Qazi courts had been set up throughout the kingdom of Arakan.
  9. Persian and Bengali languages were patronized and used as the official and court languages of Arakan.
  10. Coins and medallions inscribing kalima (Islamic declaration of faith) in Persian and Arabic script were minted.
  11. The people followed the Muslim tradition at home. Buddhist women of those days practiced “purda”. 
  1. Muslim missionary works hit the highest point. People converted into Islam in groups.
  2. Muslims were in control of trade and business. They were the main forces of agriculture.

For more details, please contact:
Australia: Dr. Hla Myint + 61-423381904
Bangladesh: Ko Ko Linn: + 880-1726068413
Canada: Nur Hasim +1-519-5725359
Japan: Zaw Min Htut + 81-8030835327
U.K. Ronnie: +44-7783118354
U.S.A: Dr. Habibullah: +1-4438158609

Book Review: Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century

Book Review: Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century by Abdus Sattar Ghazali (2017)
Habib Siddiqui
In 1978 Professor Edward Said’s book – Orientalism – was published. It was a groundbreaking critique of the West's historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East by the (late) Columbia University professor. Nearly four decades after its first publication, the book remains a modern classic. In this wide-ranging, intellectually vigorous study, Professor Said traced the origins of "orientalism" to the centuries-long period during which Europe dominated the Middle and Near East and, from its position of power, defined "the orient" simply as "other than" the occident.
In August 2003, nearly 23 months after 9/11, writing for the Al Ahram (weekly online), Professor Said wrote, “I wish I could say that general understanding of the Middle East, the Arabs and Islam in the United States has improved somewhat, but alas, it really hasn't.” He was referring to his seminal work, Orientalism.
The trillion-dollar question that we must ask today is: has the situation improved since 2003? The answer is provided by veteran journalist and author of half a dozen books - Abdus Sattar Ghazali in his book - Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century. He shows that our world is more divided politically and ideologically today than ever before even though we are more connected virtually via electronic alternative media.
American forces are still in Afghanistan, some 16 years after the country was invaded and occupied. Iraq is in a gargantuan mess since American invasion and subsequent occupation, defying world opinion including the UN, in 2003 with millions of displaced folks everywhere. Thanks to the neo-imperial manipulation, the country may eventually get divided along ethnic lines with Kurds getting their own state in the north, creating further tension in the region, esp. with Turkey which has a sizable number of Kurds living in the east. Syria is under civil war where its majority Sunnis have been bearing the brunt of Assad’s mass murder. Millions of Sunnis have been forced to seek refuge in nearby countries, including western Europe. A new nemesis – Daesh (or ISIS), replacing Al Qa’eda – falsely claiming to be Islamic and religious – has appeared in the bloody scene to further complicate the scenario and resurrect old Orientalism with the fabric of Islamophobia. Like the RAND-robots in the USA, the ISIS-robots are doing their best to terrorize everyone, redefining the clash of civilizations – ‘us’ against ‘them’. Not accidentally, the vast majority of the victims have been Muslims.
The extremist, ultra-nationalist and fascist forces are on the rise in many parts of our world (including the USA) and are even running governments in places like Austria, Poland, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, Hungary, Bulgaria and (arguably) the USA.
America has a new president in Donald J. Trump who purportedly wants to make America great again whatever greatness means to him. He won by stoking fear much like fascist leaders of the past. Many experts, thus, see him as a fascist-in-making. He has proven himself to be arrogant, confrontational, vulgar, rude, egotistic, self-contradictory and tweeter-crazy – just to name a fraction of his long list of depraved attributes that includes lying. He is also hostile to the Blacks, Hispanics and esp. Muslims. He wants to ban Muslims from immigrating into or taking refuge in the USA. Recently, he has decertified the Iran nuclear deal – a stupid proposition that is making every world leader nervous. Although he has replaced or removed some white supremacists from his inner circle of the White House advisers (e.g., Bannon and Gorka), Trump remains a very temperamental world leader and, as such, is the most dangerous person on earth who can do the greatest harm to humanity.
Sitting in the citadel of worldly power, surrounded by empire-dreaming neoconservatives and lunatics, the temptation to be a neo-Pharaoh in our age is often too great to rewrite history by ignoring the mere fact that history cannot be white-washed or swept clean like a blackboard so that "we" in the Christian Occident might engrave our own future in ‘them’ - the non-Christian Orient - and impose our own forms of life and culture, including polity, for these ‘lesser people’ to follow.
During the Bush Jr. era of ‘global war on terror’, esp. after 9/11, we heard the high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and innumerable peoples with their myriad sediments of history, which include countless histories – good and bad, great and ugly – and a dizzying variety of peoples, languages, experiences, and cultures, don’t matter and can simply be swept aside or ignored like rubbish, or tossed around like a pile of playing cards or peanuts in a jar. Haughty and irrational though it may seem, the sad fact is, as Ghazali shows in his book, there has not been any shortage of such ‘civilizational’ plans and attempts since the dawn of this new century.
Libya’s Gaddafi was lynched to death and replaced in 2011 turning the once stable, desert oasis, people’s republic into a failed and fractured state of two competing governments each vying for legitimacy. Egypt’s former dictator Mubarak had a better luck, albeit replaced through a popular revolution that brought a civilian government – the first in Egyptian modern history – that was soon to be violently replaced in a military coup via courtesy of the corrupt regimes in the Gulf (namely, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE). While murderous Mubarak’s death sentence was commuted to prison time to be ultimately released free, the popularly elected President Dr. Morsi and thousands of leaders and members of the Ikhwan-al-Muslimin are rotting in the prisons awaiting execution, with many already being executed, in Sisi’s Egypt – the new Pharaoh.
The Arab Spring – the popular Arab uprising against the autocratic and repressive regimes that was supposed to better the life of hundreds of millions of ordinary Arabs - was torpedoed by world powers (all paragons of democracy) and their client (undemocratic) states in the Gulf (except Qatar) that wanted to weaken the Arabs by letting them kill each other or maintain the status quo, respectively. Yemen and Syria are in a mess with hundreds of thousands killed and millions of people displaced from their bombed and burned out homes, towns and cities.
The drone attacks by the US and NATO forces are a daily nuisance in some parts of the Muslim world traumatizing millions of innocent civilians, esp. children. None of the policy makers in Washington and Brussels is willing to discuss the consequence of such attacks until a suicide bomber blows himself up somewhere because of being self-radicalized through social media.
Seemingly, the life of an ordinary Muslim has become so cheap that no one really cares about it any longer. Every new day is proving to be a worse day than the day before. Even Muslims living far away from the Middle East in places like Myanmar, the Philippines, China and India are not safe from repressive, ultra-nationalist – or more correctly, fascist – governments who are exploiting the terror card to kill and/or evict Muslims from their ancestral homes.
In India, under the name of protection of the cow, Hindu vigilantes and Hindutvadi fascists are lynching Muslims even on the suspicion of herding, transporting, storing and eating beef. Taj Mahal, one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture that is visited by hundreds of thousands of international tourists each year generating hundreds of millions for the Indian treasury, was recently removed from an official booklet on the State of Uttar Pradesh’s tourist destinations. This comes on the heels of the State’s Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, declaring that the Taj Mahal does not “reflect Indian culture.” The monument’s Muslim-ness or Islamic character is unacceptable to the Hindu fascists of the BJP. Adityanath’s initiation into the broader Hindu Nationalist clique – which includes the militant Sangh Parivar/Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) and umbrella Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) – began with an act of iconoclasm. He was also an activist behind the Ram Temple that saw the demolition of the historic Babri mosque (a 16th century house of worship built by the Mughal dynasty’s founder, Muhammad Babar) in Ayodhya.
If these be the new faces of secular India under the rule of Hindutvadi fascists what can Muslims expect in Suu Kyi’s Buddhist Burma (Myanmar) in which they face extinction as part of a very sinister national project to wipe out Muslim identity! Denied of any right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Muslim minorities, esp. the Rohingya, there are victims of a ‘slow-burning’ genocide that has seen in the last few weeks alone the forced exodus of more than 530,000 of this ‘most persecuted’ people to Bangladesh, let alone the wholesale destruction of all their worldly possessions. Their males, including children have been killed, women raped and properties looted before their homes, schools, shops, business centers, madrasas and mosques are burned down.
As we have repeatedly seen in matters relating to Kashmir, Palestine, East Turkestan and Chechnya – just to name a few – when it comes to saving Muslim lives in harm’s way, the United Nations have failed them miserably. One can only wonder what stops the UNSC to take punitive actions against the savages inside Suu Kyi’s government and security forces for their crimes against humanity! Don’t the Rohingyas qualify for the R2P (Responsibility to Protect) that was unanimously adopted by all members of the United Nations General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit?
Do they have to be children of a ‘higher’ God to qualify for such protection?
What future awaits humanity, including the Muslims, in this age of social media and information superhighway?
Knowing the value of controlling the mind, as Ghazali duly notes, the return of orientalism is currently taking place more in popular literature than in academic works in the US and western Europe. The shock and impact of 9/11 has created a fertile ground for the proliferation of what can be called an alarmist literature that are filled with shabby screeds bearing screaming headlines and titles about Islam and terror. There is such a mushrooming of pseudo-experts, polemicists and pundits on Islam who cares to learn the truth about Islam and Muslims from its original sources and writings of Islamic savants – like Rumi, Ghazali or Sa’di – and genuine experts or witnessing the lives of the pious believers!
While covering Islam and Muslims, the western media continue to apply negative images and characterization for Muslims to widen the clash of civilizations – ‘us’ against ‘them’.
Islamophobia has become a big business and is sold as an elixir these days by those who want to expedite the Armageddon. President Eisenhower’s fear of ‘industrial military complex’ is no longer a myth but has become a reality. Regional unrest is not only tolerated but it is encouraged to solidify the control of all those involved with the war industry.
Ghazali quotes a Rand study (December 2004) that suggested that Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides should be exploited to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.
For academics like Samuel Huntington, Islam is ideologically hostile and anti-Western; it is also a military threat due to Chinese (Confucian) arms supplies; Islam is bloody, with a long warring tradition against the West (the fact that Muslims have often been the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence from Bosnia to India hardly troubles him). As such, Huntington justifies military solutions to bring about the ‘desired’ result. Suffice it to say that Huntington's entire argument about Islam and civilizations is full of contradictions and superficialities; it is also 'culturally racist'.
According to Ghazali, “Islamophobia is systematically promoted and financially supported in the United States in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs, and carefully crafted talking points that are well funded by hate groups. The project of Islamophobia which has cost more than $40 million over the past ten years has been funded by seven foundations in the United States: 1. Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation; 2. Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; 3. Newton and Rochelle Becker; 4. Foundation and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust; 5. Russell Berrie Foundation, Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald; 6. Family Fund; 7. Fairbrook Foundation.”
Islamophobia has essentially become the neo-orientalism of the 21st century. Not surprisingly, the self-proclaimed Islamic expert Steven Emerson collected $3.39 million for his for-profit company in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism. Even American politicians are banking on it to draw bigoted supporters. “In late March 2015, Senator Ted Cruze appeared at the New England Freedom Conference with anti-Muslim hate group leader, Robert Spencer, a blogger whose work was cited approvingly by the Norway terrorist Anders Breivik. Spencer’s organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), is the group behind controversial and provocative anti-Islam metro and bus ads,” Ghazali writes (p. 145).
Ghazali shows that 39 years after the publication Professor Said’s book - Orientalism – modern imperialism never ended. While its goal to maximize benefits remains the same, its method to achieve that goal, however, has changed. It wants division along the fault lines - territorial, tribal, ethnic or whatever – so that the Muslim world remain ever weak and goes back to the days of the pre-Islamic Jahiliya with never-ending wars while buying weapons to fight each other. As events have proven, the scheme of the neo-imperial masters and planners is working.
To schmooze, the Arabs and Muslims have been told that victimology and dwelling on the depredations of empire is only a way of evading responsibility in the present. “You have failed, you have gone wrong, says the modern Orientalist.” But such a narrative would exhibit only a serious amnesia about the reality of imperial intrusion that continues to work its way in the lives of Muslims who comprise roughly 23% of world population.
Paul Wolfowitz, the former US Deputy Defense Secretary, a leading neocon, confided on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003: "We need an Islamic reformation and I think there is real hope for one." Iraq became the first casualty of that experiment. But the conspiracy lingers!
The Rand Study, released on March 18, 2004, unveiled the neocons’ plan for global ‘revamping’ of Islam, which calls for a strategy to distinguish between Muslims with whom peaceful relationships and dialogue are possible.
As a result of the meticulously planned and organized onslaught against Islam, Professor Sa’id observed that the Muslim world has slipped into an “easy anti-Americanism that shows little understanding of what the US is really like as a society… The world-wide protests before the war began in Iraq would not have been possible were it not for the existence of alternative communities all across the world, informed by alternative information, and keenly aware of the environmental, human rights and libertarian impulses that bind us together in this tiny planet.”
Is there then a hope to defeat the merchants and profiteers of war through alternative media? One must, however, be reminded here that massive protest marches of millions of conscientious global citizens did not sway a bit the Bush Jr. administration from manufacturing lies and carrying out its planned war that killed nearly a million innocent Iraqis. As usual, the UN failed to slow down Bush Jr.

In spite of the evil plan of its enemies to turn our world into perennial war zones and killing fields, the Muslim world needs serious introspection by its genuinely enlightened intellectuals that can diagnose its plethora of illnesses that had transformed it into a world of zeros with no voice in the global arena. The task is not easy though, as Ghazali reminds us of the peculiar way the political development has taken place in the Muslim countries that have created elite groups that care about only themselves in which there is no share for the ordinary masses. They are for self-aggrandizement and don’t mind selling the interest of the people and the country to the highest foreign bidder. No wonder the Muslim world has so many of these self-serving puppets, despots and autocrats ruling its people who has no fear of accountability either to God or His creation!

Will that scenario change any time soon? 

Ghazail’s book is a treasure trove that delves into the problems and challenges faced by the Muslims of the 21st century by filling in the void left open after Professor Said’s death. I strongly recommend it.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

UN Security Council Seeks Halt To Violence In Myanmar's Rakhine State

By William M. Reilly

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 14 (Bernama) -- The UN Security Council (UNSC) said Friday that it seeks to end the violence in Myanmar's northwestern Rakhine State, to push for humanitarian access to victims and for the return of more than half a million refugees to their homes, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre, the president of the Security Council, came from a closed-door briefing by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to tell of consensus among members to seek the three goals, but said there was no immediate call for a Security Council resolution.

"The situation in Myanmar is extremely serious: 525,000 people displaced, hundreds of villages wiped out, systematic violations of human rights," Delattre told reporters outside the council's chambers. "This is ethnic cleansing happening before our eyes."

In late September, Myanmar National Security Adviser Thaung Tun said at a UNSC meeting that "there has been no ethnic cleansing and no genocide in Myanmar," adding that the vast majority of those who fled did so out of fear instilled in their hearts by terrorists.

Rohingyas have been fleeing their villages in northern Rakhine State of Myanmar since Aug. 25, when a rebel militia attacked police posts and security forces and vigilantes retaliated against civilians.

Delattre also voiced a need to "increase pressure on the Myanmar authorities" so that their first announcement translates into strong action, and called for "strengthening of the dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh" where the Rohingyas fled.

Last month, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi announced the government's pledge to implement the recommendations by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by Annan, saying that those recommendations will help bring a speedy improvement to the situation in the state within the shortest time frame.

China called for patience with the situation in the Rakhine State, condemned the recent violent attacks and supports Myanmar's effort to keep its domestic situation stable.

On Friday, Delattre said another immediate objective sought by members of the council was to support the recommendations of the international commission headed by Annan, referring to those recommendations as "a clear roadmap to tackle the deep causes of the crisis in Rakhine State."

Annan warned that obtaining the three objectives would not be easy.

He told reporters after the meeting that the Advisory Commission recommended the Rohingyas not be put in resettlement camps. "They should be allowed to go about their villages and helped to rebuild and reconstruct," he said.

The commission has many long-term recommendations, and above all is the one "on the question of citizenship and verification which has been a real problem for the Muslim community (of Rohingyas)," said Annan.

Annan said Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi had accepted the commission's report and set up an inter-ministerial committee to work on the implementation.

"The international community is beginning to put pressure on the military for them to be responsible in their attitude to what they call security clearance," he said.

"We should remember that Myanmar is going through a very difficult transition after over five decades of military rule. It is a tough situation to manage. We need to work with both sides (the military and government)."

"I indicated to the council today that there is a duality in the leadership of the Myanmar government structure which makes it difficult to get a coherent and coordinated implementation of these recommendations, but we need to press ahead and work with both sides and make sure that as a government they work together," said Annan.


Open letter from a Rohingya to Aung San Suu Kyi

Open letter from a Rohingya to Aung San Suu Kyi

Ro Mayyu Ali, who fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, says Suu Kyi is responsible for the violence against the Rohingya.
14 October 2017 :an hour ago
Open letter from a Rohingya to Aung San Suu Kyi
Ro Mayyu Ali's book collection was destroyed when his home in Maungdaw was burned down [Ro Mayyu Ali/Al Jazeera]


Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh - I was born in the same year you were awarded your coveted Nobel Peace Prize.
It was one of the greatest honours to be bestowed upon someone from our country.
Everyone in Maungdaw, the area in Rakhine State where I am from, was filled with joy, and rejoiced your award as if it were their own.
For the first time since independence, we - the Rohingya - felt as though we were a part of this country. We were proud to call ourselves Myanmarese.
After suffering years of abuse at the hands of the military junta, your peace prize inspired us, a people who have suffered decades of oppression.

Watch :UpFront - Aung San Suu Kyi: Turning her back on Rohingya? - 

Inline image 1▶ 12:15

Growing up, my grandfather always spoke highly of you. He would choose the biggest goats and cows to slaughter when members of your party, the National League for Democracy, would visit. He would graciously welcome them.
My father and my beloved grandpa wanted me to follow the path you had chosen, and my mother was drawn to you by your powerful voice and activism.
In 2010, when you were finally released by the military from house arrest, we rejoiced. But seven years on, we, the Rohingya, remain victims of a brutal and genocidal state. This time, at your hands.
Since your general election victory in 2015, you pushed out Muslim representatives from your party. It was the first sign of your political cowardice.
A few months later, your administration launched "clearance operations" in northern Rakhine State. During those months, countless civilians were killed and women were gang-raped.
Despite widespread international condemnation, you denied the crimes.
You even refused to refer to us as "Rohingya", an accurate term that represents the ethnicity of my people - a people who have been living in Rakhine for centuries.
Since the start of the violence on August 25, more than 500,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Over 1,000 Rohingya villagers have been killed, 15,000 homes have been burned down, and those that have remained are trapped in fear and desperation.
On September 1, my parents and I were forced to leave our home.
After three days and two nights, we reached Bangladesh after crossing the Naf river on a small rowing boat. We later found shelter at the Kutupalong refugee camp.
Ro Mayyu Ali used to sit at this table and read his small collection of books [Ro Mayyu Ali/Al Jazeera]
I just received information that my home was burned to the ground. While many will say it was the army or vigilantes that burned it down, I feel as if it is you - Aung San Suu Kyi - that is to blame.
Not only did you burn down my home, you also burned my books.
I had always dreamed of becoming an author, studying English at Sittwe University, but as you know, the Rohingya are banned from enrolling or studying there, so I sought inspiration from books and articles.
You burned Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom. You burned Mahatma Gandhi's Autobiography. You burned Leymah Gbowee's Mighty Be Our Power. And you burned your own book, Freedom from Fear.
You are the one who is responsible for setting my hopes and dreams on fire.
And now, as we stand here in Bangladesh as refugees, my father has a question for you: "Why have you never visited the Rohingya, whether in Rakhine State or those forced to Cox's Bazar after everything that has happened?"
Do you even care about our situation?
What hurts most is not that we, the Rohingya, are the world's most persecuted community. What breaks my heart is knowing that we're the most persecuted community in your - Aung San Suu Kyi's - Myanmar.
You've chosen your path, that's clear for everyone to see. Now your name will be synonymous for the millions of Rohingya displaced around the world with the countless tyrants and dictators that have come before you.
Ro Mayyu Ali spoke to Al Jazeera's Faisal Edroos who can be followed on Twitter at @FaisalEdroos
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policies.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News

Friday, October 13, 2017

European Leaders Criticize Trump’s Disavowal of Iran Deal

LONDON — Iran, Russia and European leaders roundly condemned President Trump’s decision on Friday to disavow the Iran nuclear deal, saying that it reflected the growing isolation of the United States, threatened to destabilize the Middle East and could make it harder to resolve the growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The reaction was far from panicked, as Mr. Trump’s decision punts to Congress the critical decision of whether the United States will reimpose sanctions on Iran — a step that would effectively sink the deal.
But Mr. Trump also warned that unless the nuclear agreement was altered and made permanent — to prohibit Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons — he would terminate the agreement, an ultimatum that threw the future of the accord into question.
Though they avoided direct criticism of Mr. Trump, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France said in a rare joint statement that they “stand committed” to the 2015 nuclear deal and that preserving it was “in our shared national security interest.”
“The nuclear deal was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program is not diverted for military purposes,” they added.
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, said that Mr. Trump was sending “a difficult and also from our point of view dangerous signal.”
He said that the Iran deal, and other diplomatic achievements, were necessary “to convince countries like North Korea, and maybe also others, that it is possible to create security without acquiring nuclear weapons.”
“Destroying this agreement would, worldwide, mean that others could no longer rely on such agreements — that’s why it is a danger that goes further than Iran,” he added.
Reaction from Iran was quick and pointed. Appearing on television, its president, Hassan Rouhani, denounced Mr. Trump and called the United States an outlier that had become “more lonely than ever” in the international community. Mr. Rouhani did not threaten to withdraw from the deal, but made it clear that he would not renegotiate the terms, either.
“The statements of Mr. Trump are nothing but abuse and threats against the people of Iran,” he said. “An international agreement cannot be disregarded.”
The European leaders noted that the United Nations Security Council had unanimously endorsed the deal, and that the International Atomic Energy Agency had confirmed Iran’s compliance with it.
But Mr. Trump’s aggressive stance on Iran won plaudits from several nations on Friday, specifically from adversaries of Iran like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia, which has waged a proxy battle against Iran for supremacy in the region and was the first country Mr. Trump visited after taking office, said it welcomed what it called a “new U.S. strategy” toward Iran.
The United Arab Emirates, which like Saudi Arabia is a predominantly Sunni Muslim country with a sizable Shiite minority, also said that it “fully supports” Mr. Trump’s stance on Iran.
Some leaders declared that the deal, reached in 2015 between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, was not something that Mr. Trump could cancel, contending that Mr. Trump was essentially putting on a show for his political base.
“The president of the United States has many powers — not this one,” the European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said at a news conference in Brussels.
She said that there had been no violations of the agreement and that the world could not afford to dismantle an accord that “is working and delivering,”
to dismantle an accord that “is working and delivering,” especially at a time of “acute nuclear threat,” referring to the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear program.
Criticism of the nuclear deal was a central theme of Mr. Trump’s candidacy for president, and he has repeatedly called for revisiting what he sees as a fatally flawed agreement.
Mr. Trump said on Friday that under the current deal “Iran can sprint” toward the development of nuclear weapons when the deal’s restrictions expire.
Some of the prohibitions in the agreement are set to end in 2025, including limits on the number of its centrifuges. Iran, which has always maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, not for weapons, would not agree to a permanent freeze in its ability to enrich nuclear fuel.
That must be changed, Mr. Trump said, or he would scrap the deal altogether.
Russia, which took part in the negotiations to reach the accord and has warned Mr. Trump not to rescind it, said that the president had no basis for disavowing the deal.
“Iran is abiding” by the nuclear agreement, Mikhail Ulyanov, a director at the Russian foreign ministry, told the Interfax news agency. “Everyone agrees with that. And an attempt to somehow heighten the tensions in this situation looks like unmotivated aggression.”
In blunt language, Ms. Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, essentially looked past Mr. Trump and appealed to Congress directly.
America’s next step “is now in the hands of the United States Congress,” she said. “The international community and the European Union with it has clearly indicated that the deal is and will continue to be in place.”
Russia urged American lawmakers to preserve the deal as well.
“We want to hope that Congress will not take any dramatic steps which would effectively signify a collapse” of the deal, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, told Interfax, referring to the renewed sanctions that might lead Iran to nullify the accord.
In his remarks, Mr. Trump accused Iran of violating both the letter and the spirit of the accord. But Iran has accused the United States of doing the same, and on Friday its mission to the United Nations warned that Iran might itself back away from the deal.
“Iran has many options on how to proceed and if necessary will terminate its commitment regarding this issue,” the mission said in a statement, without elaborating.
Iran has also resisted the idea of renegotiating the nuclear agreement in the West’s favor. Last month, its foreign minister rejected extending the length or conditions of the accord, saying that Iran would consider changing the agreement only if the concessions it had already made — including giving up nuclear fuel — were reconsidered.
There are fears that the basic framework of the accord could collapse if the United States walks away. Mr. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told reporters on Friday that Russia believed Iran would abandon the deal if the United States did