Dhaka Article Seeks Meeting People`s `Expectation` To Ban Religion-Based Politics
The Daily Star Online
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Devout Afghan Muslims offer afternoon prayers in front of an election poster of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, at a mosque on the last Friday of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 18, 2009.
Article by Kazi Anwarul Masud: “Banning of Religion-Based Politics”
Post-Cold War political theorists are now engaged in interrogating the different visions of democracy (Nadia Urbinati of Columbia University, “Two visions of democracy,” Dissent magazine). One vision questions the inclusion of Islam among the cultural and religious differences within a democratic community. The other does not exclude Islam within the expression of liberal multiculturalism because this school of thought does not see Islam as “a subspecies of totalitarianism,” contradicting Pascal Bruckner`s, a well-known French “noveaux philosophes,” description of people being chained to their roots and consequently unable to change and adapt to modernity.
The militant liberals gained ground after 9/11 and shifted their politics of intolerance from communism in a post-Cold War period to Islam. But Italian theorist Norberto Bobbio postulates: “It is worth risking liberty by making its enemy its beneficiary if the only alternative is to limit liberty to the point of suffocating it, or not allowing it to bear fruit. Much better an always endangered but expansive liberty than a liberty well-protected but unable to develop.”
The proponents of the second version that include, according to Professor Benjamin Barber, “Samuel Huntington`s discredited notion of clash of civilisations in which the West and the rest are locked in a struggle of survival,” are militant liberals, neo-cons and “new sovererigntists” glorified during George Bush`s administration, who almost consciously ignored the 200 or more sects of Christianity to zero in on a few wayward Muslims of bin Laden`s variety.
The question facing the world today is not about the comparative superiority of different religions. The question is of the engagement between people holding absolute contrapositions in order to establish cohabitation in a multicultural society that guarantees freedom of expression and the practice of one`s own belief under the conviction that they will not be vilified by communities who profess other beliefs.
Addressing the Istanbul seminar in June 2008 (Reset Dialogue on Civilisations), Benjamin Barber found the proposition, which has become fairly fashionable in many Western quarters, absurd that Islam cannot accommodate democracy or that democracy cannot accommodate Islam. Barber contends that to the extent Islam is fundamentalist, so is religion in many places “because in our secular age religion is under siege and fundamentalism is above all a reaction to religion under siege.”
Perhaps Benjamin Barber could have spoken of religious extremism instead of fundamentalism, as the word “fundamentalism” connotes looking for fundamentals of an idea or a concept, be it divine or mortal, and does not necessarily mean the meaningless terrorist acts conducted by a section of deviants in the name of Islam.
The aggrieved nations, both developed and developing, Muslim and non-Muslim, who have been victims of terrorism, would agree that the process of cultural transformation has to come from within and can only be encouraged from without.
The Bush version of democracy, as an international project to be implemented through coercive measures, if necessary, was a non-starter because many of the developing countries that lacked, in the eyes of the West, the basic tenets of democracy had been subjected to colonial exploitation for hundreds of years and are weary of intervention in the name of “liberation” of the oppressed from the tyrants.
Michael Ignatieff (of Harvard Kennedy School of Government) was at least honest enough in his admission that the invasion of Iraq “was a referendum of American power.” But then, a decade after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the people of the world are reluctant to support the regime change argument now proffered because it was already known to the Anglo-US leaders that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction.
Barack Obama`s Cairo speech had, to a large measure, diffused the scepticism in the Muslim world (no supporter of Osama bin Laden) about the sincerity of the US-led West to solve, for example, the festering Palestinian problem, but the strength of the Israeli lobby is proving to be more powerful than Barack Obama had assumed.
The confusion raging around the world today is not about the struggle between atheism and religiosity. Yale Professor Paul Bloom is convinced that religion is bred in the bones. Tocqueville and Durkheim insist that free societies have been constructed on a religious foundation that lends them stability and the opportunity of political disagreement. Rousseau saw the need for religion as solidifying people into groups laying the foundation of the state. What we have to guard against is that acknowledgement of religious and ethnic differences does not degenerate into giving, in Pascal Bruckner`s words, “one`s blessing to hostile insular communities that throw ramparts between themselves and the rest of the society.”
In the light of the above, the Bangladesh Supreme Court`s decision to lift the stay order on the four-year-old High Court judgment, declaring illegal the 5th amendment to our Constitution, provides an opportunity to bring back to life the 1972 Constitution with Islam as the state religion and, at the same time, to ban religion-based political parties.
Undeniably, Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country and most of the people are devout Muslims. But the absence of the separation of religion and the political authority in unambiguous terms, the teaching of giving unto God what is God`s and unto Caesar what is Caesar`s, opens up the possibility of strengthening the alleged presence of what journalist Christopher Hitchens would call “Islamo-fascists” and historian Niall Ferguson would label “Islamo-Bolshevists,” committed to revolution and reordering the world in a way that would undo modernism and take countries like ours to sixth-century Saudi Arabia.
There is no denying the fact that religion-based politics is contrary to the basic tenets of universal human rights followed by all civilised countries, both in their domestic law and in their international commitment. In Bangladesh, too, the events involving terrorist activities perpetrated by Islamic extremists have strengthened the demands of the people to ban religion-based political activities. One hopes this expectation will now be realised.
(Description of Source: Dhaka The Daily Star online in English -- Website of Bangladesh`s leading English language daily, with an estimated circulation of 45,000. Nonpartisan, well respected, and widely read by the elite. Owned by industrial and marketing conglomerate TRANSCOM, which also owns Bengali daily Prothom Alo; URL: www.thedailystar.net)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
Hamid Al-Ali Criticizes Arab Rulers, Political Succession in Arab World
Sunday, January 10, 2010
On 1 January, the Kuwaiti, pro-jihad commentator Hamid al-Ali posted to a jihadist website an article entitled “Al-Tawris!” in which he criticizes the phenomenon of political succession in the Arab world and the rulers of the Arab region. The commentator offers the public solutions to end this phenomenon.
A translation of the message follows:
“Al-Tawris! (Ironic term referring to political succession)
“Hamid Bin-Abdallah al-Ali
“Two goats do not compete in our Arabian dessert. The issue of succession (Al-Tawris) is the most complex issue facing our ummah, and the issue will prolong indefinitely. Especially that lately every aspect in human life has become linked to the political system. Our political systems have reached a phase in which they are ready to tear down every feature that honors this ummah for the sake of Al-Tawris! Al-Tawris became the ummah`s absolute goal, and it is ready to achieve this goal regardless of the cost that might come along.
“Let us give a current example. I do not think that history has ever witnessed an incident inflicted on Jamal (Jamal Mubarak, son of Egyptian President Husni Mubarak) that justifies genocide against the people of Gaza! Is it acceptable to demolish the tunnels (by cutting them off with Egypt`s steel wall) of over more than 1.5 million Muslims?
“O, wow, now we understand. The tunnels in Gaza were purposely left untouched so that they would be later used as negotiation cards when the time of Al-Tawris came. If the US-Zionist beast, obsessed with human genocide, decides to take pleasure in the genocide of Muslims in Gaza, and end the resistance issue and the Palestinian case, then it will resort to the available offer of Al-Tawris in return for construction(of the wall). He approves of Al-Tawris in order to commence the process of the construction of the steel wall that would surround Gaza!
“O people, political succession is a very dangerous thing. The fate of millions among the Arab public and the fate of the ummah at large are connected to it. What makes this matter even more serious is the fact that the path that might lead to change has been obstructed, especially seeing as how the republics are turning into kingdoms overnight, and the kingdoms have been producing more defective and rotten samples (rulers) throughout the years. The future is not very appealing and the public`s dreams of salvation have turned into nightmares.
“While the world around us is rapidly evolving-- people are attaining their rights; nations are utilizing advancements in knowledge toward the progression of civilization; the media is rising up and technological innovations are breaking out-- we are walking backwards.
“We will use the largest Arab country, Egypt, the Land of Kinanah, the heart of the Arab world, the cradle of civilizations, as an example.
“Get ready to be shocked while reading a report published in an Egyptian magazine. The report includes alarming figures concerning Egypt, of the Nile, and riches, here is a summary:
“The report from the International Monetary Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) indicates that 45% of the Egyptian people live in poverty, in various locations. The report of the Shura Council`s Agricultural Production and Lands Reclamation Committee stated that 45% of the Egyptian people are living under the poverty line, on less than a dollar per day. In addition, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics reported that 1.5 million Egyptians live in cemeteries! 20 million suffer from depression, and 1,200 suicides are reported each year. In a report pertaining to the rates of misery, suffering, backwardness, and poverty, Egypt ranked 57 out of 60 countries included in the study.
“In the report from the Center of Rural Studies, 39,373,524,000 (Egyptian) pounds were squandered from April 2008 to January 2009 due to administrative and financial corruption!
“Egypt ranked 115 out of 134 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which measures the prevalence of corruption among officials in a state. Egypt tailed the list of 134 countries whose citizens have high blood pressure. In addition, Egypt has the highest rate of infant mortality in the world, and is second in the world in diabetes-related mortalities. Twenty thousand deaths are reported in Egypt every year due to anemia, and more than 100,000 Egyptians are diagnosed with cancer every year. Their cancer is caused by potent water pollution. Here are other horrifying details, provided in this source: (Hyperlink of the source is provided here).
“As for the rest of the Arab countries, they report similar findings -if not worse. The situation is deteriorating.
“In my view, there are only these three solutions:
“First: The rulers should start permitting genetic modifications to alter the genes of infants so that they would grow up to have the following characteristics: Enthusiasm worthy of the great Islamic civilization, readiness to commit sacrifices to preserve the ummah`s honor, courageousness to hold on to the ummah`s message, concern for the ummah`s dignity, refusal to be a slave to foreigners, in addition to honor and chasteness. These are the fitting characteristics of a leader. These modifications can be carried out in modern laboratories, by taking a handful of the remains of the caliphates, who lived during the honorable periods, extract their DNA, and inject it into the one of the Arab leader`s systems. After that, we have to wait for God`s intervention to lead us to a way out!
“The second solution: Umar al-Faruq al-Nayjiri came with this solution. He was the reason behind the installation of devices in airports that reveal everything; even the private parts of the body, before boarding airplanes. These devices produce rays which are said to cause sterility. Those people (Arab heads of state), may God fight them, should go through these devices. This is the only way to reach their testicles, and hence they will not give birth to any more children. Thus, succession will end in such a creative way- more by hit than by wit. This was an unexpected hit. What you might think harmful could be useful.
“The third solution: Public revolution to prevent succession. This revolution will not happen unless nations are convinced that death is definitely on its way. Either tens of thousands die slowly because of hunger, sickness, organ theft, torture in the tunnels of security, oppression, poverty, ignorance, floods ... etc, or a few hundred die in one day in a revolutionary march. This solution was inapplicable in the past because teaching people the difference between these two deaths was impossible because authorities monopolized the media production that creates people`s awareness. Today, the situation has completely changed. Reaching and influencing public opinion it is now completely out of control.
“It seems that the third solution is inevitable. Don`t you see that the nations are heading towards change faster than before? The matter is that Arab nations, according to a studied political scheme, remained in the darkness of ignorance more than other nations. Today, they started to change. God willing, we are expecting change.
“This change will produce political regimes that will emanate from the wills of the people and will be lead by the elite. These political regimes will derive legitimacy from their ability to achieve the nation`s goals for civilization. These regimes will follow the nation`s Islamic culture and will be proud of this identity. These regimes will connect to each other through regional and international institutions that will link them and create unity among the nations.
“This change is inevitable; however, the factor of time in the equations of great revolutions is relatively long, according to God`s measures.
“The following strange equations show that this future prediction is totally correct:
“The nation is weak and Islam is strong.
“The so-called war on terror is in its peak and is consuming the international tirants` economy, while Islamic jihad is becoming stronger and is increasing.
“The western politicians, who posses the strongest means, are doing their best to stop the Islamic tide, which is rolling like a tsunami, and nothing can stand in its way in spite of its limited resources.
“The devils of corruption are exerting every effort to fight the (Islamic) religion, while religiousness is increasing, and it prevailed in Turkey, where religion was fought more than it was in any other country.
“War on virtue is increasing, while the wearing of veils is spreading.
“Arab political regimes are becoming increasingly ignorant, while nations are becoming increasingly knowledgeable.
“Arab political regimes are becoming more violent, and intimidate nations, who are becoming bolder and braver in facing the regime`s tyranny.
“Attempts at media falsification to deceive the mind are increasing, while awareness is increasing, too.
“The United States doubles its expenses for the dream of global control, while its failure also doubles.
“Zionist entity (Israel) collaborators within the Arab regimes are increasing; however, the power and authority (of the Zionist entity) are declining and it is exposed to severe setbacks.
“Those who know the courses of the history know that all of this indicates one thing and is moving toward one direction, which is that a huge change for civilization is inevitable, because historical renaissances do not happen except through disorder in the political regime, which caries their burden. This indicates that the succession disaster in our Arab countries will end and the sun of our civilization will rise again, God willing.
“O people, all you have to do is to continue seeking awareness from sources other than the official media, and adapt to the winds of change, because `in the name of Allah, whether it move or be at rest.` (Partial Koranic verse, Hud, 11:41) You should be certain that the succession series is inherited from the occupation in order to fulfill its aspirations. If occupation passed down our civilization`s objectives along with succession in the past, today it is completely the opposite. Thus, succession should end by all means available.
“I still believe that after two or three decades we will witness the disappearance of the Zionist entity, the decline of US predominance, and the return of Islam`s ability to influence the world.
“Finally, we affirm that the article`s title is not a typing mistake.
“God is our guide. `For us Allah suffices, and He is the best dispenser of affairs.` (Partial Koranic verse, Al Imran, 3:173). He is the Best to protect and the Best to help.”
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.