November 19, 2001


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No path to reformation
One word: Khilafat
Dear Readers, VI

Varsha Bhosle

Where are the green M&Ms??

My mail from Muslim readers usually croaks to the tune of "you will die, bitch", "shut up, you filthy whore", "you're shit", and so on. That is, not counting the messages that are simply unprintable, referring as they do, in gutter Urdu, to various bodily parts and perverse sexual acts. And all this even as the believers are upholding the umm... high-minded teachings of the Quran.

Another feature is that such messages are always anonymous -- which I consider to be a hallmark of the Islamist, whether a seemingly quiet citizen or an activist: The dorks simply don't have the guts to attack face-on. Hence the prefacing of the opposition to the strikes against the Taleban with an ass-saving condemnation of the 9-11 attacks. Hence the bombing of defenceless civilians off the battlefield. Hence the Great Islamic Warriors' "tactically" turning tail and scurrying away like bunny rabbits, leaving the Great Paki Jihadis to be massacred in Mazar-e-Sharif. So much for the dreams of destroying America. Those who speedily shaved off their beards after the fall of Kabul included this lot, I suspect.

As for the messages which weren't outright abusive, they clarified my lingering doubts:

All in all, the mail elevates the phrase "bloody hypocrites" to new heights.

Anyway, I did a bit of mail-zapping of my own with some American writers who've been expounding on jihad after the 9-11 attacks, and discovered that they rarely receive such threat/abuse mail. Can't say I was surprised: The ancient fear of the white Crusader must be an enduring one! The corollary to which is, Islamists think they can coerce Hindus -- women, especially -- with the ease with which they dupe our pathetic "secularists". Think again.

What's confounding me is, where are the Moderate Muslims?? I'm told ad nauseum that M&Ms form the majority of Muslim society while jihadis are just a tiny minority. Then is it possible that only the fundamentalists access, or that M&Ms are afraid to even anonymously pick a debate via mail...? Why did I receive only 2 M&M messages while over 70 slammed me for "twisting" the Quranic verses? (Incidentally, I merely quoted others.)

Anyway, 'twas a good thing, this spate of hate mail. For it reminded me of my old to-do with some dweeb from the Council on American Islamic Relations and the need for an update on the group. I was in the US when I saw on television the happy sight of President Bush praying at a mosque, with CAIR's founder and executive director, Nihad Awad, by his side. I nearly fell off the sofa. Later, I learned that Bush had invited representatives of this Islamist group to pray with him at the National Cathedral, to attend the congressional speech, and to visit the White House.

Debbie Schlussel, in WorldNetDaily, informs us that the organisation is "among the most dangerous to American security. CAIR is an outgrowth of Hamas front group, the Islamic Association of Palestine." Oliver Revell, the FBI's associate director in charge of Investigative and Counter-Intelligence Operations from 1985 to 1991, told the Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill: "[IAP] is a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants. It has produced videotapes that are very hate-filled, full of vehement propaganda. It is an organization that has supported direct confrontation."

According to Revell, IAP and CAIR have "intertwined membership" and share each other's propaganda material. Just as Nihad Awad used to be IAP's public relations director, Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's director of communications, also worked for IAP. And Rafeeq Jaber, IAP's current president, was a founding director of CAIR.

So what do you think are the thoughts on world peace of these gentlemen who purport to better the relations between Muslims and other peoples? Well, Ibrahim Hooper dismissed Sudan's murder of 2 million Christians, and the slavery, rape and torture of millions more, as "inter-tribal hostage-taking"; explained away the bombings of US embassies in Africa as a result of "misunderstanding on both sides"; and, to date, hasn't condemned Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, Nihad Awad admitted at a 1994 Barry University panel discussion, "I am in support of the Hamas movement" and, in the Muslim World Monitor, called the trial and conviction of the first WTC bombers "a travesty of justice".

Remembered something else: James Patterson, in the Indianapolis Star of November 3, has accused the US government of "squelching" evidence which could have proven that the convicted in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing case, Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, did not act by themselves. Apparently, former FBI agent Dan Vogel wanted to testify that he had received "22 affidavits from Oklahomans who had seen McVeigh in the company of Middle Eastern men in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the bombing, and on the day of the attack". But, when Nichols' attorneys asked the court if Vogel could testify, the judge disallowed it because "the Department of Justice had taken the position that it would not authorize his testimony".

Now why did I go off on this tangent, you ask. Because, forget Awad and the "travesty of justice", every Muslim and his uncle (not to speak of pinkos like Shabana Azmi) have a ready attack against the term "Islamic terrorism": That after the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the US government and media instantly suspected Islamic organisations whereas the act was later found to be perpetrated by an extreme right-wing Christian US Army veteran. Well, the jury seems to be out on this one...

No one knows why the FBI and the justice department smothered the evidence about McVeigh being in the company of "Middle Eastern men". Or why they don't dig up the case again. I wonder if it's because McVeigh has already been executed, or because of the turn American society could take. Sweeping dirt under the carpet "to keep communal harmony" isn't a perversity of only Indians. Hence Bush holding CAIR's hand at tea parties.

To top it all, Thomas L Friedman writes in Friday's NYT: "Although it was never his intention, Osama bin Laden has triggered the most serious debate in years, among Muslims, about Islam's ability to adapt to modernity. In Arab states this debate is still muted. But in Pakistan and other Muslim countries with a relatively free press, writers are raising it openly and bluntly. Nothing could be more important."

Hain? India has a Muslim population far larger than the total population of any other Islamic country save Indonesia, and yet, I haven't read a *single* debate on "Islam's ability to adapt to modernity" in any Indian paper. All I see is hostility towards the opposition to Islamism, disguised as a pathetic plea for acceptance. One such is from the oh-so-respected intellectual, Mushirul Hasan: "Life goes on with the accusing finger pointed at the Muslims, regardless of whether one is an atheist or a believer, secularist or Islamist, Marxist or Congressman. But, then, why should anybody trust us? Our ancestors destroyed and desecrated temples: hence our public figures remind us of our collective guilt by visiting the Somnath Mandir. Muslim leaders partitioned the country; hence we must live in Bharatvarsha on the Sangh Parivar's terms... Meanwhile, my countrymen, please let me know, once and for all, if I have passed your loyalty test." Oooooh... sob, sob, sob, sob... my heart's breaking into a zillion pieces.

There has altogether been too much weeping for the ubiquitous "hurt sentiments" of Muslims. Neither India, nor the West, has a clue about managing the "Islamic problem". In the US, some Arabs detained by the INS after the 9-11 attacks have started a hunger strike because "we have wanted to be with our families for the holy month, and now that's not going to happen". One would have thought that a prison is the perfect place to spend Ramzan! But no, what does the INS do? It sends officers to placate the protestors! I don't understand: Who broke the law, and who's citing religion to bend it?

In the UK, the BBC World Service has just taken a policy decision not to describe the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon as "terrorism" because "the service would lose its reputation for impartiality around the world if it were seen to use such a subjective term". Quoth Mark Damazer, the Beeb's deputy director of news, "However appalling and disgusting it was, there will nevertheless be a constituency of your listeners who don't regard it as terrorism." Excuse me? "Constituency"...? Like the one rioting in Oldham, Luton, Bradford...? In what way are Hamas's strikes different from the WTC attack -- apart from its never having eliminated 6,000 civilians in one go?? Too, does the BBC call the IRA "freedom fighters"...? This ain't a case of worrying about "impartiality" -- it's about business and the fear of Islamic reprisal.

Nevertheless, there does exist a country that has kept its 15 per cent Muslim population totally in line with the rest, believe it or not: In Singapore, there are no demands from Muslims for separate Islamic codes and other such inequities. The Government of Singapore appoints the mufti (the highest Muslim authority in the land); it vets all the Fridays sermons, which are required to be submitted to the authorities in advance; it monitors the sermons to ensure that there is no deviation from the approved text; and it steps in with the secular law of the land if the Muslim authorities do not police themselves.

Point is, all that Singapore's government does is to strictly and uncompromisingly supervise how the Quran is relayed to the people. The operative word is "uncompromisingly".

Varsha Bhosle

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