Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Palestine at the World Peace Forum ­ A Lesson in How to Stand Your Ground

Vancouver's World Peace Forum [www.worldpeaceforum.ca] comes to a close today. While it has been impossible to attend even a fraction of the 300 events, for many of us the Palestine forum on Monday night was the event that could not be missed. The WPF has weathered and survived many vicious attacks for allegedly being a "hatefest", [Vancouver Sun, Wednesday, June 21, 2006] ironically because of the position the WPF took in regards to international law - i.e. organizations could not participate in the Peace Forum if they were advocates of policies, [war, occupation, apartheid, etc] that violated international law. This left out Zionist organisations whose stated policy is to be advocates for Israel and its policies of occupation, apartheid and assassination.

This was not an easy position for the WPF to take, and it only arrived at this after a very long process in which the local Anti-War Movement and the Palestine Solidarity Movement demanded this principled stand of the WPF organizers. But it was all worth it on Monday night when we filled our large venue and in pin drop silence the crowd heard 3 powerful women tell their heart-breaking stories of the occupation.

The speakers were:

- Miryam Rashid, Interim Director of the Middle East Program of the American Friends Service Committee ­ Chicago, lived in the occupied West Bank for 5 years during the first Intifada. She was involved with Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations from 1998 to 2000, and sees peace as inseparable from recognition of Palestinian human rights.

- Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli education professor at Hebrew University lost her daughter in a suicide bombing, and has turned her grief into a tireless quest for justice: the end of the Israeli occupation which she considers the root cause of her daughter's death, including the elimination of racism in Israeli education.

- Cindy Corrie's daughter Rachel was killed by an Israeli soldier driving a bulldozer as she non-violently protested the demolition of a Palestinian home. Cindy Corrie continues Rachel's pursuit of sustainable peace, one rooted in justice for all.

Later that night those of us who organized the event gathered in celebration with the speakers. Social justice activism can be a dreary business consisting of endless and tedious grunt work. In this line of work, there aren't too many immediately perceivable victories. Those of us who do it are in it for the long haul, knowing that we may not live to see the justice and equality that we are working for. But occasionally, we have nights like that one where we see glimpses of what the world would look like if justice prevailed over oppression, and if truth prevailed over greed.

This experience has reminded my heart that there is no injustice, no oppressive power, no matter how well funded and well marketed it is, that can forever withstand the force of reasoned, principled and committed activism.

May we all live to see many more successes and to see a free and democratic Palestine in our lifetime.

The webcast of the event is now available for download at http://www.workingtv.com/26jun06mideast-wpf.html

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Allah Hu

make my heart a mirror, in which may shine only one kalima

(click here to listen/view)

windows users click here to view/listen

Friday, June 23, 2006

Democracy is spread by the missile

So what's it all about, then?

Michael Caine stars as the sexually liberal sixties spiv, Alfie

Poll shows Muslims in Britain are the most anti-western in Europe

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

LA8 back in court

The “Los Angeles 8" case has taken many twists and turns in the nineteen years since it began in 1987. An important phase is now opening on June 20 where the government’s claims are being challenged in the Federal Court.

From the onset of the case, the government had spared no expense to deport the Seven Palestinians and the Kenyan known as the LA8 for doing nothing but speaking their minds on Palestinian rights. The government so far has offered no evidence to show that these individuals have done anything wrong. This nineteen-year campaign of vilification and misconduct against the eight is being challenged in Federal Court.

Aiad Barakat, one of the LA8, has taken the government to court. The government is being forced to disclose its case. Second, it is the first time that the case is going to federal court since the Supreme Court ruled that the LA8 could not go to federal court until they exhaust their immigration due process. That is why this hearing is important for our community and why we should be there for the hearing to support the Eight and show the court that we are behind our constitutional rights.

This case is not only important for the Arab American community, it is important to all immigrants. Through it, the government aims to strip immigrants of their constitutional protections, and affords an unfettered discretion to the immigration authorities to target certain nationalities as "special threats", and manufacture reasons to deport them. The doors of the federal district courts are now open in this hearing to immigrants to challenge such arbitrary and illegal actions.

When asked if he is depressed because of the nineteen-year oppression, Aiad said, "Yesterday was the day to be depressed; today we have work to do." We need to be as strong as Aiad and the LA8 and attend the hearing on the 20th to stand by them. This case is casting a profound chill on the First Amendment rights of the Arab American and Muslim community and immigrants generally; it is time to stop it.

Support the LA8 and attend the hearing:

Place: 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
2nd Floor, Courtroom #6, Judge Stephen Wilson
Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Time: 9:00 A.M.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bear Butte

Have You not seen how to Allah bow all who are in the heavens, and all who are on the earth, the sun and the moon, the stars and the mountains, the trees and the animals, and many of humanity. (Qur'an 22:18)

I wish it were possible for us Indian people to tell the world how much sacred places mean to us. To explain that no man-made cathedral or mansion can inspire within us the feeling of sacredness inspired by those places generations of our grandparents worshipped. At no place is the culture gulf that separates the European and the Indigenous people greater than in our native regard for this lands' sacred places and the European-Christian inability to understand that certain places are sacred and should be protected from human interference. What we gaze upon with reverence they look at with greedy calculation and lust.
Over the years these venues have crept closer and closer until one event has its filthy toilets on the slope of the Sacred Mountain itself! Each year thousands of motorcycles roar around and upon Bear Butte as America displays it's version of "Sodom and Gomorah" within yards of the spot from which Chief Crazy Horse spoke when he told us never to sell the land.

"Bear Butte is 'Nowah'wus' to the Cheyenne Nation, It is 'Mato Paha' to the Lakota. Across the Great Plains over thirty indigenous Nations acknowledge the sacredness of this Brutte and its surrounding areas...
While we all as a people hold the entire Black Hills to be sacred, Bear Butte is under direct attack at this time and we are preparing to do our best to defend the sacred mountain again. We have learned of plans to build enormous biker bars and campsites all around our sacred mountain. In addition existing beer bars and concert venues are expanding and edging closer and closer into sacred grounds. Today one has dug outdoor toilets on the very slopes of the north side of our Sacred Mountain for their annual drunken binge!
Over 600,000 motorcyclists are expected to attend the "Sturgis Bike Rally" in 2006 and they pay millions of dollars into the local economy of the people who claim to license and permit them on behalf of the public. Never since Custer discovered gold has our Mato Paha been threatened by such a combination of greed, government and legal adversity...."

for more information see the Defend Bear Butte website, and an article by the late Vine Deloria Jr. on Sacredness Among Native Americans.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

US versus Iran

The military regime in Pakistan, and the goverment of Turkey are two major allies of Imperial United States (IUS). And so, what are the views of the population... well 27% of Pakistanis have a favorable view of the IUS... and Turkey... a whoping 12%!

Meanwhile... 72% of Pakistanis express a favorable view of Iran... reaching a high of 77% in Indonesia!

Guess who is winning the battle for "hearts and minds" in the "muslim world"? The high % of favorable view of Pakistanis towards Iran is especially significant, given that the IUS backed Saudi regime's anti-Shia and anti-Iran propaganda has flooded the country in the past decade...

Pew Research

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"This is my country"

Mohammed Abdulkahar tells the story of terror raid that backfired

The UK Terrorism Act of 2000 gives police the power to hold suspects without charge for up to seven days (this is about to be raised to 28 days).

Between 11 September 2001, and 30 September 2005, nearly 900 people were detained under the Act; of 121 charged, 23 have been convicted of terrorism offences. Almost 500 were released. Some were handed over to immigration authorities. Others were cautioned, or held under mental health legislation.

14 people, including five Britons, are under control orders, a form of house arrest.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Millennial fantasists

Whoops! The British intelligence services have got it wrong again. The high profile operation carried out by police and security services at Forest Gate, east London on June 2, in which one man was shot, was a bungle. Andy Hayman of Scotland Yard apologized, adding in that warm fuzzy way that comes so naturally to police officers, “This is not the time for conflict or anger." We’re not angry Mr Hayman. Really, we’re not.

In truth, few in the British Muslim community are reassured by Mr Hayman’s placating tones. According to the Islamic Human Rights Commission, since 9/11 some 950 people, mostly Muslims, have been arrested under British anti-terror legislation. Only 27 of these have been convicted of ‘terrorism’, a term now defined so broadly that doubts hangs over some of these cases. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. And again.

Why have intelligence services got it so persistently wrong? My own theory is that the criminal intentions of a miniscule number of British Muslims has been misunderstood by both community leaders and the secret police. Muslims are keen to claim that such activities have nothing to do with their communities and ‘Islam’, and have little mainstream support. This is only half true. Tony Blair and his friends pretend such activities have nothing to do with Muslim grievances, particularly over British foreign policy. Half untrue.

What is nearer the truth is that the people who plotted and executed the atrocities on 7/7 were indeed extremists, but of the criminal kind, acting out violent, hypermasculine fantasies drawn from hidden discourses of the more cultish elements of British Muslim youth. These fantasies look forward to the downfall of a West which is represented as both decadent and exploitative, and echo more widespread hidden transcripts of dissent. Such transcripts are not unique to Muslims, but can be found among almost every group subject to oppression and domination. And most Muslims in Britain – along with related groups such as asylum seekers - continue to be subject to serious discrimination in every area of society.

All subjugated groups imagine the downfall of their dominators in private. What gives Muslim millennial discourse its peculiar potency is that Islam is an imaginary community extending around the world. Thus, when “alliance” troops slaughter, torture and bully Muslim civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, or when the British government mindlessly supports the Israeli government, British Muslims link their personal subjugation to the global domination of the Muslim umma which began under European colonialism.

Those Muslim currently on trial in London for allegedly plotting to blow up the ‘slags’ at the Ministry of Sound night club have provided journalists and the public with hours of such fantasy talk, some of which is patently laughable – what is grim is they may, although this is not yet clear, have intended to act on their ugly fancies. But if they did, they are in the minority. Most Muslims, like most people, understand the difference between sharing anger over injustices and giving it mendacity as the basis for public action.

Muslim millennial fantasists pervaded the Internet prior to 9/11, but many have since gone to ground, fearing such opinions would see them pilloried as potential terrorists. Mosque committees have also colluded in silencing Imams sympathetic to such millenarian hopes. This has just put the lid on the bottle. Meanwhile, the British government is busy ignoring the recommendations of the innumerable task forces set up to give air to Muslim grievances, most notably by refusing a public enquiry into the July 7th bombings. To make matters worse, this year has seen the Blair become not just the puppet of Bush, but of the racist agenda of Britain’s xenophobic right-wing press.

No doubt, the British security services will continue to use the latest technology to listen in on private Muslim conversations, trying to discern between those of us blowing hot air about bringing judgement day to those facets of Britain which trouble us most, and the tiny number of men twisted enough to take such discourses literally. The evidence is that, so far, your average British spook can’t yet tell when its not butter.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Got Milk?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

MCB's new head signals more of the same?

Let's hope the election of Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari as head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is not an act of entrenched cronnyism, nor an indication of its abject failure to transform itself in the light of persistent criticisms of its relationships to New Labour, its leadership style and it's failure to actually represent Britiain's diverse and demographically young Muslim population.

Bari has been deputy Secretary General of the MCB for 4 years, and like his predecessor Iqbal Sacranie, has been honoured by the government which effectively bought the organisation into existence. Bari is an MBE, as well as being a Chairman of the East London Mosque

Muslims outside the UK wondering why a scholar is not head of the MCB should note that, in the UK, Pakistani mosque committees often hold complete authority over their Imams, who are viewed by as being kammi (village servants), although Bari is himself of Bangladeshi origin.

Bari's first policy concerns - youth representation in mosques, the Muslim vote - he had a role in getting George Galloway elected - and concerns over 'extremism', also indicates MCB are set to continue sharing a policy platform with the over-zealous Net campaigners MPACUK.

The MCB/MPACUK good guy/bad guy act is now well known to the more astute commentators of the British Muslim scene, with MCB issuing polite correspondence to the mainstream press in a crisis, whilst MPACUK flexes its muscle and frothes at the mouth.

Let's hope Bari doesn't make the same mistake as Iqbal Sacranie, who initially supported Britiain's imperial escapes in Afghanistan, but was forced to change his tack (much to Blair's annoyance) as a result of huge pressure from within the British Muslim community.

Sacranie was decribed as a 'lunatic' by commentator Zia Sardar, who like many British Muslims saw him as an embarrassment. Insha Allah, let's pray Dr. Bari is able and willing to steer MCB a more honourable direction, which is both responsive to British Muslim youth and diversity, as well as leading us towards a more just and peaceful future.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Cab Ride

an e-mail found floating around on cyberspace...

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away.

But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened.

A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. "Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated." "Oh, you're such a good boy," she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

"I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long." I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now" We drove in silence to the address she had given me.

It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you. " I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.

What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?

What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.


You won't get any big surprise in 10 days if you send this to ten people. But, you might help make the world a little kinder and more compassionate by sending it on.

Thank you, my friend...

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance

Thursday, June 01, 2006


My Allah
I praise You,
- and You are worthy of praise -
for Your benefaction toward me,
the lavishness of Your favours toward me,
and Your plentiful bestowal upon me,
and for showing bounty toward me through Your mercy
and lavishing Your favour upon me.
You hast done well toward me
and I am incapable of thanking You.

(Imam Zainul Abideen (AS))