Monday, November 27, 2006

Neocons targetting British Media

Just a quick note on the story in The Times today regarding concerns being expressed over the 2012 Olympic Park mosque. Local Muslims are concerned that it may be dominated by Tablighi Jamaat and have drawn up a petition to make sure the mosque is shared by all Muslim groups. Yet again, journalist Sean O’Neill has resorted to using gaga sources for information about Muslims. In this instance, it is the Centre for Islamic Pluralism (CIP), whose executive director is Stephen ‘Sulayman’ Schwartz.

Yes, you guessed it, CIP is based in Washington USA and Schwartz is a barking mad Neocon! He has even described Hamza Yusuf as one of the most “most radical, vulgar, and provocative Islamist agitators in the West”! When you have finally stopped laughing, I wonder if you would mind sending an email to The Times suggesting that Neo-conservative organisations such as the Centre for Islamic Pluralism and the Hudson Institute have a political agenda and might therefore be just a teeny weeny bit bias.

Email: letters@thetimes.co.uk. If you are writing for publication, your letter must include a postal address and telephone number (not a mobile). Please be polite, make a single point and keep your correspondence under 200 words. Make sure you refer to the title, author and the date of publication. The Times has a reputation for high quality English and style and letters are edited with this in mind – they will ring you if they intend to edit before publication. Please do this today and put a stop to Sean O’Neill being used as a mouthpiece for the US far-right.

Islamic hip-hop artists are accused of indoctrinating young against the West
Sean O’Neill
11 November 2006
Use of Neo-conservative Hudson Institute as source.

Muslims oppose vast mosque plan
Sean O’Neill
27 November 2006
Use of Neo-conservative Centre for Islamic Pluralism as source

your brain on mainsream media

Do you want your brain to look like that? Yes? OK - -- stop now --- go back to your ABC/CNN/FOX/PBS/BBC/Univision etc.

Whats that you say? Can't hear you --- louder! Whatz that again? --- You said NO?!!! You don't want your brain to look like that?!!! OK --- then read on.

There are now a number of online radio stations that you can listen to while you blog away --- or cook that bhiryani falafel chulu kabab mashed potato pumpkin pie --- or whatever...

Here is what you do --- you gonna need itunes --- just download it...

Step 1. Download this file here and save it on your desktop (right click on the link, save etc.)

Step 2. open up itunes --- and click on file, and then click on Import:

Step 3: Then select the file "publicradio.txt" on your desktop (that's the file you downloaded in step 1, above).

Step 4 --- click on "Choose" and now look at the playlist section of itunes (on the left) and you should see a new playlist called "publicradio." Click on "publicradio" and you'll see a screen like this:
Step 5 --- click on any of the stations on the right --- and watch your brain recharge.

These all are, of-course, my selection. There are many more around, if you know of any that should be on the list, let me know in the comments section. Also let me know if, for some reason, this does not work for you.

See also Muslim blogs reading made easy.

and Tele Sur

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Should Muslims in North America Be More Involved in the Issue of Dar Fur?

My perception is that we are not taking the issue of the suffering of Muslims in Dar Fur in Sudan seriously enough. I have a number of theories, but I'm more looking for feedback on this issue:

1. Are there significant efforts North American Muslims are making to improve the situation there?
2. We are not making significant efforts because:
  1. Fur (the primary ethnic group suffering in the area) are not well-represented among North American Muslims.
  2. A general discounting of Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. Muslim U.S. citizens should be more concerned about preventing harm the U.S. government is causing before preventing foreign governments from doing harm.
  4. North American Muslims doubt that there is a true humanitarian crisis and suspect there is a plot to weaken the country of Sudan.
  5. There is genuine concern, but really there is no good solution given the demographic, geographical and political circumstances. Therefore there is limited action.
  6. We are concerned, but we are having difficulty cooperating with other North American organizations involved in this issue.

My own guess is that there is a combination of most of these factors in our underinvolvement. I personally believe that the best option is a strengthening of the African Union's involvement rather than the United Nations. In fact, an Associated Press report dated November 16, 2006 reports on moves towards such measures. But I am not an expert in this, and the primary United States-based advocacy organizations such as SaveDarfur have, to my understanding, called for a United Nations peacekeeping mission because the African Union is not able to undertake such a large mission.

Islamic Society of North America Statement of May 2, 2006

Links from Islamic Relief

Other Resources
University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Podcast "Voices on Genocide Prevention"
http://blogs.ushmm.org/index.php/COC2/ (this link is not working as of the time of writing, but I've subscribed to this podcast through iTunes for almost a year.)

Recent Use of TASER on U of California at Los Angeles Student in Library

Amy Goodman’s program on Pacifica Radio, Democracy Now, has a feature on an incident where University of California campus police used a TASER five times on a student in the University of California Los Angeles library.

One of the students present made a video, which is available on YouTube.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It's them Zionists wot dun it!

Anyone who is sad enough to frequent Muslim Internet forums, as I am, will no doubt be familiar with some of the more challenging explanations for negative media representations of Islam. Journalists, newspapers and indeed the entire corpus of the Western media may be labelled ‘Islamophobic’, with justifications for labelling copy as racist ranging from personal interpretation to the use of sophisticated definitions of Islamophobia, such as that developed by the Runnymede Trust (1997). Justifications can also involve an appeal to ‘Zionists’ as a traditional enemy of Muslims, varying from the quite credible appeal to the organised Israeli lobby – although this may be invoked over news stories other than Palestine, down to the more conspiratorial idea that every negative story about Muslims its part of a Zionist plot.

Muslim and non-Muslim sceptics frequently dismiss such analysis using crass and homogenizing explanations which accuse the majority of Muslims of being anti-Semitic. These sceptics appeal to studies which allege a widespread belief amongst Muslims of Jewish involvement in 9/11 and point to the introduction of Judeophobic propaganda into Muslim majority nations after World War II, where it was used to demonise the newly formed State of Israel (Johnson, 1987). This itself appeals to, and is no doubt drawn from, media discourses which represent Muslims as primitive and credulous. In fact, Muslim understandings of the way in which their faith is represented by the mainstream media varies and is better understood when located in the contexts of minority groups’ self-understandings of negative media coverage and the concept of cultural literacy.

Muslims are not the first minority group to adopt explanations of racist media coverage that draw on conspiratorial concepts. A study carried out by Sreberny-Mohammadi and Ross (1995) into media understandings amongst ethnic minorities in Britain indicates that conceptions of the press as a racist cabal are not new. The problem with such ad-hominem arguments is that, were they true, news coverage of minorities in Britain would be far more negative than it currently is. Moreover, crude appeals to Islamophobia are challenged by Muslims who work within the mainstream media. The blunt war-cry of ‘Islamophobia’ also fails to acknowledge significant differences between journalists who take an anti-Islamic stance. When the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) voted Poly Toynbee “Islamophobe of the year” in 2004 alongside Nick Griffen, it merely demonstrated that some Muslims were unable to differentiate between an over-passionate secularist and a fascist bigot. Such misunderstandings – along with the muddle of media comment on forums and blogs - point to a lack of media literacy amongst British Muslims which desperately needs to be addressed.

At present, there is only one substantial investigation into Islamophobia in the media in Britain, that of Elizabeth Poole. This concludes, on the basis of very substantial evidence, that Islam and Muslims are represented by the media within a narrow and negative framework. But the explanation detailing the nature of this framework, how it developed and how it is sustained, is not easily reduced to the kind of sound bite and polemic that appeals to users of Net forums and indeed some blogs. Islamophobia is racism, and as such, has its origins in the racism which was constructed as a result of Orientalism and European colonialism. These racisms have been reformulated with the rise of Islam as the ‘new enemy’ of the West and the shift to faith-based identities amongst ethnic minorities. The key factor which sees these racisms perpetuated is a media which, as a result of market forces, is highly consensual and conservative in what it defines as newsworthy. This consensuality is achieved by relying on established discursive frameworks which surround topics such as Muslim education and fundamentalism. These frameworks define both what is considered news and the language used to construct news stories and comment across the media.

This explanation does not deny the agency of individual journalists, but can be criticised for failing to highlight the institutional processes contributing to Islamophobia, such as the impact of Conrad Black’s neo-conservative alliances on the representation of Muslims in The Telegraph whilst he was its owner. However, these explanations emphasise process as an important facet of how news coverage becomes Islamophobic and hence pose a challenge to conspiratorial explanations as well as indicating a way forward. At first sight, the cultural and literary turns implicit in the concept of discourse might suggest these explanations are inaccessible to Net forum users unfamiliar with the relevant facets of post-structuralist theory. Fortunately, Poole succeeded in presenting her research in a way which opens it up to wider use, by providing categorical examples of how specific topics are discussed so that established discourses can be challenged. In my view, one of the future roles of the British Muslim intelligentsia must be to articulate these topical frameworks in a way which facilitates wider democratic action by Muslim Net users seeking to challenge Islamophobia in the media.

Poole. E. (2002) Reporting Islam: Media Representations of British Muslims (London: I B Taurus)

Insha Allah

The Radical Islamist

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

this land

Let me begin by stating that thousands of years before the 'official'
Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by Governor Winthrop of the
Massachussetts Bay Colony in 1637, North American Indigenous
people across the continent had celebrated seasons of Thanksgiving.
'Thanksgiving' is a very ancient concept to American Indian nations.
The big problem with the American Thanksgiving holiday is its false
association with American Indian people. The infamous 'Indians and
pilgrims' myth. It is good to celebrate Thanksgiving, to be thankful
for your blessings. It is not good to distort history, to falsely portray
the origin of this holiday and lie about the truth of its actual inception.
Here are some accurate historical facts about the true origin of this
American holiday that may interest you......................................... '

Thanksgiving' did not begin as a great loving relationship between the

pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people. In fact,
in October of 1621 when the 'pilgrim' survivors of their first winter in
Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial 'Thanksgiving' meal,
the Indians who were there were not even invited! There was no turkey,
squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. A few days before this alleged
feast took place, a company of 'pilgrims' led by Miles Standish actively
sought the head of a local Indian leader, and an 11 foot high wall was
erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of
keeping Indians out! Officially, the holiday we know as 'Thanksgiving'
actually came into existence in the year 1637. Governor Winthrop of the
Massachussetts Bay Colony proclaimed this first official day of Thanksgiving
and feasting to celebrate the return of the colony's men who had arrived
safely from what is now Mystic, Connecticut. They had gone there to
participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children,
and Mr. Winthrop decided to dedicate an official day of thanksgiving
complete with a feast to 'give thanks' for their great 'victory'....

As hard as it may be to conceive, this is the actual origin of our current

Thanksgiving Day holiday. Many American Indian people these days do
not observe this holiday, for obvious reasons. I see nothing wrong with
gathering with family to give thanks to our Creator for our blessings and
sharing a meal. I do, however, hope that Americans as a whole will one
day acknowledge the true origin of this holiday, and remember the pain,
loss, and agony of the Indigenous people who suffered at the hands of
the so-called 'pilgrims'. It is my hope that children's plays about 'the
first Thanksgiving', complete with Indians and pilgrims chumming at
the dinner table, will someday be a thing of the past. Why perpetuate
a lie?

Let us face the truths of the past, and give thanks that we are

learning to love one another for the rich human diversity we share.

(Written by John Two-Hawks)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"What's the matter, boss, we sick?"

6 Imams Removed from Twin Cities flight


"We are concerned that crew members, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam," - Nihad Awad, (executive director of the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations)

"May have succumbed?" Like peer pressure or something? As long as so-called Muslim rights organizations like CAIR remain so spineless and apologetic (so as to not upset "Massa"), and so long as they remain kinda "concerned," you know, like maybe this unending series and patterns of incidents might have something to do with systemic racism and bigotry, just maybe - NO progress will ever be made in the respect and protection of rights (or dignity) of Muslims.

"What's the matter, boss, we sick?"
- Malcolm X (on this same kind of tendency)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Radical Islamism

The politics of violence, the economics of greed and the monoculture of consumerism are inseparable facets of a contemporary malaise that has its roots in European colonialism. Today, this reformulated imperialism constitutes an international menace that poisons the souls of millions through its insipid materialism and self-serving individualism. Moreover, its ecological fall out – climate chaos - now threatens to kill and displace millions.

In my view, there is a spiritual and moral imperative to challenge this state of affairs, with a view to establishing a world where political violence is non-existent, where all forms of human exchange are based on the best of values and where din al-Haqq is once again irrevocably established as central to all human cultures. I do not believe there is a single means to achieve this end, but I do suggest a uniquely Islamic way forward.

I hereby propose a radical Islamism whereby Muslims in all nations and in all walks of life seek to affect change everywhere and at every level of society, through bearing witness to the beauty, truth and justice revealed in the āyāt of al-Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (aws). In striving for this transformation of humankind and its deliverance into a time of love of Allah (‘Ishq), I propose Muslims consent to:

1. Make an uncompromising commitment to hold fast to the five pillars of Islam;
2. Study Qur’an and the life of the Prophet (aws) for at least one hour every day;
3. Strive to ensure every actions is undertaken with an intent to serve Allah (swt) only;
4. Seek to uphold the qualities of truthfulness, humility, courage, modesty, kindness, poverty, simplicity and good manners as exemplified by Muhammad (aws);
5. Ensure all activism (sadaqah) informs and is informed by inner learning (jihad).

I call on all Muslims, women and men, to reject teachings which declare this world inherently dystopic, and recognise the perennial truth and human diversity at the same time as uniting in a commitment to the Islamic principles herein. And in bringing the love of Allah (swt) to all peoples and all nations in peace and humility, we seek to rescue humankind from the calamity that surely comes from wilful ingratitude, insha Allah.

Friday, November 17, 2006

clashing with a passion

Just the other day tanks rolled in smashing everything from the School-yard to the building. Gassing my hometown as they downed their shells on crowds to pound, thrashing. Bombs mashing drown the sounds. We cry why another grave (man)?

Another round another blaze (man)? Bullets spray another prey, another brave man, made a pact so itís on we stand our ground. Gotta act grab a stone cause the droneís just a throw away (man) hound gotta pay (man).

Save my fam and my own (man), stashing just a rock in my hand sling shot black hawk down crashing. What now? See me turning and dashing. Vowed somehow to liberate so we clashing with a passion, learning to ration, my mate got a bashing so Iím lashing with no Kalashnikov brov. Olive branch and a white dove: get stuffed!

Got no love for fascist and ruling factions spurning my peopleís right of return. Dawn raid sirens flashing and Gaza is burning (gov) yearning for action. Churning Shaheeds earning their patch and mansions. See even in Eid we bleed, whilst you eat them sweets. And hit the streets so you clubs to beats and move your feet puffin on hash and weed, whilst weíre getting beats as they club our knees, when we hit the streets to protect our peeps. Trust it ís all trauma, they bust and keep blasting but like a fashion Itís never lasting, we got diplomas for raw guts. And thatís the life we lead its pure drama you must have caught a glimpse on Panaroma.



Monday, November 13, 2006

Islam - a danger to youth?

There is no such thing as heroes, heroines or saints. Reality is more complex than the one in which heroes and heroines reside. Their reality is narrative - story. The Prophet Muhammad (aws) is often portrayed as a saint, or of a false hero and even the villain. But more sophisticated narratives of his life, such as the sirah by Martin Lings, depict him as a human being pursuing a quest in a world slowly awakening to spiritual truth. Hence Lings represents people in terms of their motives, and not as black and white, good and bad.

Being portrayed as a hero perhaps has its upside, or so hero Bob Geldof thought. In his entertaining autobiography written in the wake of the first 'Band Aid', Is That It, Geldof describes a clumsy encounter with Mother Theresa, during which she explained to him how she was able do things he could not, but equally he could achieve things beyond her own reach. What did she mean? Geldof observed her unashamedly milk her own reputation with some admiration, pinching the conscience of government ministers into acting on behalf of the poor and even gaining audiences with presidents without appointment. The Nun Geldof met was a street-wise campaigner, a character created by Geldof's own aspirations.

Northern European saints are less likely to be religious, these days. Heroes arise to suit the times. An example of the modern, secular saint-heroine is Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of the London-based Kids Company. An Iranian born in Tehran, Camila’s rise to prominence has followed the typical saint-heroine’s path – family tragedy (sister’s suicide), overcoming obstacles (severe dyslexia), self sacrifice (using her own mortgage payments to set up a child therapy service) and resounding achievement (Woman of the Year, 2006). A storybook life!

Narratives of Camila’s children are also presented in heroic terms. Victims of an unjust system (inadequate and often callous child protection services), these children often rise from poverty, dissipation and maladjustment to become equally successful (university educated). Even in death, narratives present these children as heroes, as in the story of Jamail Newton (Observer, 12/11/06), killed in a random shooting at aged 19 as he threw himself in front of his friends.

Interestingly, one of the obstacles to Jamail’s rise from abandoned child to healed role model to dead hero status was Islam. Here is the sub-plot, taken from Amelia Hill's story of Jamail in The Observer, but quoting Camila Batmanghelidjh:

[Jamail] he was still highly vulnerable. Last July, an incident took place that made Derrick Graham, Jamail's key worker at Kids Company, realise quite how delicate this aching need had made Jamail.

'He was desperate for adult love and when a man approached him on the street, and began talking about becoming a Muslim, he listen to that,' said Graham. 'He was so desperate for love and a sense of belonging that, when that man promised him those things, he opened up his arms.'

Almost overnight, Jamail adopted Muslim dress and began studying the religion. Alarmed, Graham organised a multi-ethnic group of Jamail's peers to discuss the matter. 'We talked it through, and he came to his own decision not to follow it any further,' said Graham. 'It was one of the unusual and admirable things about Jamail: from a young age, he could have adult conversations and change his mind.'

Why was Derek ‘alarmed’ by Jamail embracing Islam? This is not made clear. Having lived in South London, I am aware of people living in the Capital who pose as religious teachers and pray on vulnerable young people. I met one, ‘Christian John’, who exploited his thin veneer of religiosity to gain control over people’s lives. The story here mentions one man, but overall, the emphasis appears to be on Islam as a threat to a ‘delicate’ young man.

Saints and their supporters carry great moral authority. They can inspire Geldofs (though some see Bob as being anything but a saint), yet equally, they can demonise without having recourse to fact or reasoned argument. Camila Batmanghelidjh routinely attacks local government agencies, but rarely does she mention her association with the Conservative Party in the same breath. Compared to politicians and media pundits, the folks at Kids Company have the potential to do serious damage to anyone they depict as a menace.

The representation of Islam as inherently dangerous, particularly to young men, is a well-worn Islamophobic trope and I am sad to see it associated here with the laudable work of this charity. It raises issues of the accountability of groups working outside of the welfare system with regards to equal opportunity. At the same time, Muslims themselves need to tread carefully and perhaps avoid targeting people whose desire for faith masks unmet emotional needs.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Muslim Hip Hop a 'gateway to extremist politics'?

Today's Times (of London) includes the following tale of terror:

Islamic hip-hop artists are accused of indoctrinating young against the West
Hip Hop and rap artists are teaching young Muslims the ideology of radical Islamism through songs about the war in Iraq, the oppression of Muslims and the creation of an Islamic state governed by Sharia, or religious law. Intelligence agencies have identified music as a “tool for indoctrination”. The phenomenon began with an American group called Soldiers of Allah. The group has since disbanded but its music and lyrics remain popular on the internet. Other groups in Britain, France and the US have been identified as giving cause for concern. Many use the derogatory term “kufur” to describe non-Muslims. Madeleine Gruen, an American intelligence analyst, highlighted the lyrics of a British group called Blakstone as a possible gateway to extremist politics.

Madeleine Gruen is a member of the Hudson Institute, founded by by the futurist Herman Kahn and other colleagues from the RAND Corporation. This is the RAND Corporation which published Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies by Cheryl Benard, widely regarded as the key policy document in the propoganda war against Islam. The Hudson Institute is said to be developing programs on the political and economic transformation of Muslim nations. It's membership includes the arch-Neocon Richard Perle.

Using the same logic, the Hudson Institute is surely a gateway to extremist American Imperialism.

Articles from the Hudson Institute can also be found on the website of the 'apolitical' Sufi Muslim Council, an organisation set up this year with the blessing of the British government.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Why Is This OK?

Salam everyone,

So I was reading my friend Malangbaba's blog and I saw this:

Not Worthy

What is with people who get the boss off by foisting a very severe sentence on the employee, where the boss just happens to be a white [religion unspecified] female and the employee just happens to be a brown [Muslim identifiable through his name] man?

Why is this a victory for them?

I don't really know what to say, other than this is just wrong.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

meanwhile in Palestine

It is astonishing that the Arab countries with all the economic and political cards within its reach, do not oppose this new war against the Palestinians. The Arabs do not want any resistance against Israel to prove that it is capable of confronting, because such a stand contradicts its commitments to the American Administration that employed them to be guards against the emergence of any force in the Arab world that might create problems for the American Arrogance. -Ayatullah Fadlallah.

The Israeli ambassador feels no compunction in speaking the language of racial stereotypes. "Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia," he says. "We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don't have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not - we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the southeastern side." (The Two White Sisters)

and check out also Khalil Bendib's commentary on the the elections. and interview with Cynthia Mckinney.

On tonight's program, Khalil will speak with Atlanta congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who has become a national icon to her supporters in the Middle Eastern, African American communities and other progressive communities for being the only member of congress to steadfastly stand up to the Israel lobby and other racist, right wing lobbies which have been hounding her ever since she first became a member of the US congress and have managed to defeat her a second time this summer. Tonight she talks about the heavy price to be paid for daring to speak truth to power and staying true to her democratic ideals come what may.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Trial of Medical Personnel in Libya Accused of Spreading HIV

The International Herald Tribune of November 5, 2006 has an article describing the trial of five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor acccused of spreading HIV to 426 children in a Libyan hospital. A recent study commissioned by the Libyan government blamed the infections on poor sanitary practices. This information has not yet resulted in the release of the medical personnel.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

November 4th, 2006

a demonstration outside of what was once a den of spies.

"We have you infiltrated ambassador, don't move much because we are watching you," (President Hugo Chavez)

lots more photographs here check 'em out


on remembering brad will

Asamblea Popular de Oaxaca (espanol)

updates and pictures on the women of color blog (ingles)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Interview with Ron Suskind

'The President Knows More Than He Let's On'

For years, Ron Suskind has been considered one of the best- sourced reporters when it comes to the CIA or the US government. The author and former Wall Street Journal reporter has high- level access to sources in the US administration. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his investigative reporting and his new book, "The One Percent Doctrine," has been the subject of critical praise around the world. In the book, Suskind describes how George W. Bush and his advisors completely reshaped US foreign and security policy after Sept. 11, how they hunted in vain for Osama bin Laden and turned torture into a regular part of CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists. In the exposé, Suskind also reports for the first time about terror attacks that have been successfully foiled and about one al- Qaida turncoat who served for years as an informant against bin Laden and Co. Suskind lives and works in Washington, DC.

One hundred suspected terrorists from all over the world are still being held in secret American prisons. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, CIA expert Ron Suskind accuses Washington of "running like a headless chicken" in its war against al-Qaida. He reserves special criticism for the CIA's torture methods, which he argues are unproductive.


Vote Green!

Todd Chretien, a Green party senatorial candidate for California, interviewed by Khalil Bendib on how his campaign is trying to break free from the tyranny of the corporate-sponsored Republican/Democratic duopoly. These efforts are of direct relevance to voters worried about the insanity of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and the US domestic policy with regards to Muslims and other communities.

The interview includes an important discussion about strides made by his party in standing up, and pushing for a more just policy in Palestine and in the rest of the Middle East.

click here to listen (web streaming)

and/or subscribe to the Ihsan Podcast.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pause for Peace

The New York Times will be attacked for publishing this op-ed, their first ever by a representative of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. The Times needs to hear that some readers support publishing these views. Send letters supporting the publication of this op-ed to letters@nytimes.com Letters intended for publication should be no more than 150 words and should include your address and phone number.

Pause for Peace

HERE in Gaza, few dream of peace. For now, most dare only to dream of a lack of war. It is for this reason that Hamas proposes a long-term truce during which the Israeli and Palestinian peoples can try to negotiate a lasting peace.

A truce is referred to in Arabic as a "hudna." Typically covering 10 years, a hudna is recognized in Islamic jurisprudence as a legitimate and binding contract. A hudna extends beyond the Western concept of a cease-fire and obliges the parties to use the period to seek a permanent, nonviolent resolution to their differences. The Koran finds great merit in such efforts at promoting understanding among different people. Whereas war dehumanizes the enemy and makes it easier to kill, a hudna affords the opportunity to humanize one's opponents and understand their position with the goal of resolving the intertribal or international dispute.

Such a concept — a period of non-war but only partial resolution of a conflict — is foreign to the West and has been greeted with much suspicion. Many Westerners I speak to wonder how one can stop the violence without ending the conflict.

I would argue, however, that this concept is not as foreign as it might seem. After all, the Irish Republican Army agreed to halt its military struggle to free Northern Ireland from British rule without recognizing British sovereignty. Irish Republicans continue to aspire to a united Ireland free of British rule, but rely upon peaceful methods. Had the I.R.A. been forced to renounce its vision of reuniting Ireland before negotiations could occur, peace would never have prevailed. Why should more be demanded of the Palestinians, particularly when the spirit of our people will never permit it?

When Hamas gives its word to an international agreement, it does so in the name of God and will therefore keep its word. Hamas has honored its previous cease-fires, as Israelis grudgingly note with the oft-heard words, "At least with Hamas they mean what they say."

This offer of hudna is no ruse, as some assert, to strengthen our military machine, to buy time to organize better or to consolidate our hold on the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, faith-based political movements in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Turkey and Yemen have used hudna-like strategies to avoid expanding conflict. Hamas will conduct itself just as wisely and honorably.

We Palestinians are prepared to enter into a hudna to bring about an immediate end to the occupation and to initiate a period of peaceful coexistence during which both sides would refrain from any form of military aggression or provocation. During this period of calm and negotiation we can address the important issues like the right of return and the release of prisoners. If the negotiations fail to achieve a durable settlement, the next generation of Palestinians and Israelis will have to decide whether or not to renew the hudna and the search for a negotiated peace.

There can be no comprehensive solution of the conflict today, this week, this month, or even this year. A conflict that has festered for so long may, however, be resolved through a decade of peaceful coexistence and negotiations. This is the only sensible alternative to the current situation. A hudna will lead to an end to the occupation and create the space and the calm necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.

Few in Gaza dream. For most of the past six months it's been difficult to even sleep. Yet hope is not dead. And when we dare to hope, this is what we see: a 10-year hudna during which, inshallah (God willing), we will learn again to dream of peace.

Ahmed Yousef is a senior adviser to the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya.