Are Muslims the New Niggers of America? – My Comment on Roger Ebert’s Post

Rogert Ebert is probably the most famous film critic in the world, who has also become a twitter sensation. But of late, Roger Ebert has been the center of attention for completely different reasons. Ebert is a noted critic of the Republican politicians like Sarah Palin who are opposing the Park 51 Muslim Community Center, dubbed incorrectly as the “Ground Zero Mosque”,  and sees the controversy as a missed opportunity to show to the world the Constitutional freedoms that Americans can enjoy.

But in relation to his opinion and comments about the Park 51 controversy, the right wingers have actually resorted to criticize Roger Ebert for his views, for supposedly sympathizing with the “terrorists” and for accusing Sarah Palin to be resorting to tactics from Mein Kampf, the autobiography of Adolf Hitler. Despite the criticism on Ebert, his mention of Sarah Palin in the context is correct, since it was her initiative, along with other politicians like Newt Gingrich, which fueled the controversy.

And this post will further illustrate why this controversy is encouraging the notion of hatred against Islam among Americans, which is the most dangerous part of the story.

One of his very recent posts for his blog for the Chicago Sun-Times “10 Things I Know About the Mosque” offer a very balanced and common-sense perspective on the issue and I felt compelled to comment on the post myself.

“Brilliant piece. The correct reaction to this blown-out-of-proportion issue is common sense really. So are American values and the rights offered by the American constitution. While those who oppose Park 51 maintain that it is not about the religion, they maintain that mosques are “monuments to terrorism” and that Muslims are terrorists. The simple translation to that is: “We don’t like you Muslims, and you can get the hell out of here.” Which is fine, but unAmerican. Given their viewpoint, there should not even be a single mosque in the NYC because the World Trade Center was located in the city, which suffered the 9/11 attacks, leave alone building Park 51 on the proposed spot. I just hope that feeling does not spread out to the rest of the America, although I have a feeling it already has, with anti-mosque protesters rising voice in other states like Tennessee. If things get too worse, this could be the beginning of the end of the religious freedom of Muslims in America. I hope not, but if that happens, then America would need to consider a fact: Are we not resorting to the same values for which we bomb other countries?”

August 26, 2010 4:25 PM

While I won’t go explaining my comment, which really was made on the spur of the moment, I would just like to reflect on a few things here. The location of the Park 51 Community Center, which just contains prayer halls and is not a mosque, has certainly stirred a controversy, which in my opinion is absurd, but nevertheless respecting the sentiments of the families of the 9/11 victim, I would consider it to be an issue in the first place. Probably the sanest analysis of the issue which I have come across so far comes from Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and pretty much reflects what I think about the issue.

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment: There is No Ground Zero Mosque

However, in the wake of the opposition to the proposed community center, many people who opposed the very idea of a Muslim place of worship found an excuse to spew out their hatred for the Muslim community. Most of these anti-Mosque protesters hold that “Mosques are monuments to terrorism”. While they have all the right to think in that way, preventing the construction of mosques is denying Muslims their religious freedom and civil rights, which is unAmerican, which would be paradoxical since the opponents of Mosques are patriotic Americans.

Even states like Tennessee, which are miles away from either New York City or Washington D. C., which were the cities that became victims of the 9/11 attacks, and have no apparent connection to the attacks except for the fact that they are located in the same country, people have started voicing their opinion against a local Islamic Center, which is well elaborated and covered in his usual satirical manner by Jon Stewart in the Daily Show.

The opposition to the proposed community center has also revived the sentiment of hatred against the Muslim community among the American public, which like most of the non-Muslim world is already suffering from Islamophobia, with incidents like a Bangladeshi Muslim cab driver getting stabbed in New York City after the passenger asked him if he was a Muslim, and went on to stab him on learning that he was, and one drunk man entering a New York Mosque, abusing Muslims and urinating over the prayer mats.

We are talking about the United States of America here, the Free World, not Afghanistan, not Iran, not Iraq, not Pakistan, but America. Still they say it is not about religion. To those who consider these mild episodes, I would just say that let us hope that it does not get any worse.

But then again, it is Americans who have to decide whether they want to offer Muslims their rights in the country, or whether they want them out of the country altogether. Because given the theory of the opponents of the Mosque, who are clearly more concerned about Islam itself than the 9/11 victims or their families, given the example of the opposition to the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, TN and other examples quoted above, then not only should there not be a single mosque in the New York City, but in the entire country.

It could even be implied by this opinion that they also do not want any Muslims living in America altogether, since Muslims supposedly are terrorists, which is fine if the majority of Americans agree with it, which is not really the case. Just the problem is that all those Muslims living in America are “Americans”, and are somewhere in between 3 to 9 million in numbers. And you know we are not talking about illegal immigrants here and obviously it does not matter if most Muslim Americans are immigrants. Besides, America was built by immigrants anyway.

I know sane Americans like Ebert, Olbermann, President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Bloomberg believe in American values and don’t agree with those suffering from Islamophobia. But the broad public opinion matters more than that. Because if this trend strengthens, I will not really be concerned about the religious freedom of Muslims in America, but their very security. The question to ask is: Are Muslims becoming the new niggers of America? If that is the case, America certainly needs another Martin Luther King Jr.

There can be a thin line between hating terrorism and becoming a terrorist yourself.

Note: If you are still wondering why some people are insane enough to support Park 51 even after watching the video clip with Olbermann’s comments, read this.

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The Sialkot Carnage: Are Pakistanis Becoming a Savage Nation?

While the nation was busy dealing with the destruction and devastation of the flooding, yet another tragedy was unfolding in Sialkot on August 15, 2010. Two brothers, named Moiz Butt, aged 18, and Muneeb But, aged 16, were brutally tortured and were beaten to death in public in a village near Sialkot. Not by the Taliban, but by the general public. It was just not murder, it was something much worse. It was a slow, torturing, painful and horrific death. They made them suffer for hours, brutally beat them with metallic rods, stones, bricks and canes and God knows what else.

There can not be a good enough or an encompassing post on this tragic incident, and maybe this is not the first time that such a barbaric and brutal act has taken place in the sub-continent, given the rich history of the region in riots and mob attacks. But still, there is something about this incident which is very tragic, and more shameful than the similar ones occurring in Karachi, for example, in which angry public mobs burnt three robbers alive, who were caught red-handed. I hope I am just not overreacting in publishing this post.

They were just two young boys, who were somehow alleged to be “robbers” by the self-righteous local village mob, and were later confirmed not guilty of any crime at all. I won’t go into details of the case history, neither do I know about them  too much like most people, and it does not matter anyway, since murdering someone like this in absolutely unacceptable. This not only shows how barbaric and insensitive the general public have become, but also how inhuman, morally corrupt and ineffective the state institutions and law enforcement authorities are.

Even video clips were recorded of the incident, which is why everyone can feel its intensity. The media crews arrived and documented the incident. The Punjab Emergency Rescue Service 1122 arrived at the spot for help, but the police and the security administration of the corrupt bureaucrats working in the area prevented anyone from interrupting the carnage. The boys were totally innocent and belonged to a law-abiding and noble family living in Sialkot and were the sons of one Sajjad Butt.

First of all, let me apologize for posting these clips of this incident, but I need to document them in order to present the evidence of the case under discussion and also to convey the intensity of this incidence and why am I so upset about it.

I recommend you not to watch these clips at all if you are sensitive to violence or have a weak constitution. If you have to watch, then maybe you should not go through the entire length of the clips. These clips will only offer you an idea about the intensity of this savage, brutal and barbarian act and are only posted here to offer an evidence to this tragic incident. If the description of the incident is enough for you, I advise you to skip them altogether, if you are not one of those curious types.

The incident as reported by Geo News.

The incident discussed in Dunya TV talk show Hasb-e-Haal, through which I learned about it.

This is the most graphic video, so you can choose not to view it. However, as an evidence I am posting it anyway. Apologies to anyone who considers it offensive, but viewer discretion has been advised.

Yet another graphic and horrific depiction, which goes to show how brutal were the mob. Viewer discretion advised. If the description suffices you, you can choose to avoid the pain of watching this clip.

They were brutally beaten, bathed in their own blood, with almost everyone putting in their “contribution” to make them bleed even further, which shockingly even involved old men and little children. Then they were dragged on the roads and were finally hanged and humiliated. They even tell me that they finally put their bodies outside their homes transported to there by putting them on a truck. I have a feeling these brutal savages knew who these boys were and that they were specifically targeted.

The account in the media, that the boys were thought to be “burglars”, since there had been a burglary in that neighborhood just earlier, does not convince me at all. Maybe it is true, but if it is, only shows how cold-hearted and cruel those people were. The people were really beating the boys, as it is evident from these clips. I have a feeling that there is more to this story, which is being covered up by the people, the corrupt DPO, the local administration and the criminal police of the area.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary has taken the notice of this incident and has slammed the Sialkot DPO Waqar Chauhan over this tragedy. As a matter of fact, all of the civil servants operating in the area  should step down after this incident, and the “criminal” police should take responsibility for this carnage. In fact, almost a weak is about to elapse and the police  is still unable to submit a report for this incident.

A Word on the Morality of the People

This incidence occurred during the Holy Month of Ramadan, which is still continuing as I write these lines. A Muslim is even forbidden to verbally abuse someone, leave alone beating anyone or harming physically. And this tragedy occurred in broad day light, when people were supposedly fasting. I wonder about their faith in Islam, God and Ramadan when they were resorting to such a brutal act. They should be ashamed to call themselves human beings after doing so.

At least I am ashamed to be a Pakistani and a human being after learning this.

If you refer to my article about educating yourself against prejudices, I had talked about how people have no problem with murdering human beings and watching violence, as their minds get conditioned for it, when they approve of little acts of violence, such as killing an insect. I am not saying that I am a perfect human being, but I am just referring to the fact how little intolerance to violence can lead to greater acts of violence.

The people who were so brutally beating the poor boys did not think for a minute how it would feel if they were beaten up by everyone in their place. How it feels when a metallic rod hits you, how it feels if everyone kicks you when you are already bleeding to death and cannot take it anymore, and how it feels to be humiliated and killed by a slow death in this painful and inhuman way. I bet that coward mob would not even be able to take a single blow.

Again, people are as brutal as they can do something as horrific and savage like this act is simply because of the fact that they have no concept whatsoever about the importance and the sanctity of life. They neither have any regard for the life of other and neither for their feelings. They can gather and kill two innocent young boys and make an exhibition out of it, and no one was there to stop them.

At this point, I must say that I have never felt more disgusted and disappointed at the Pakistani nation ever before in my life. But I have never known of a more brutal and violent incident in my life as well. The nation certainly has fallen to a new low with this act, and shame on the state, the bureaucracy and the ever-corrupt police, who are nothing but a bunch of criminals.

The alarming fact is that would people treat anyone like this who they consider as criminals, even without confirming it? Does it not make them criminals themselves? I don’t think there is a single criminal offense in the world which deserve such a brutal punishment, which is a clear violation of human rights. And by the way, why did the authorities let the people take law in their own hands and did nothing to stop them? In fact, they protected the mob.

As far as the culture of public punishments go, it is not a new concept in the region at all. People are stoned to death regularly in countries like Iran, Afghanistan and the Tribal Areas in North Western parts of Pakistan, particularly the areas controlled by the Taliban. But unfortunately, many Muslims approve of such inhuman and barbaric methods of punishment.

It is because of such religious concepts that the masses are encouraged to resort to brutal and violent means in “punishing” whosoever they think is “wrong” by their sub-human standards. What these people really need is an education. Not only should they be taught the importance and sanctity of life, but they should also be cured of the prejudices and hatred which plague their hearts.

This tragic and horrific incident should get every Pakistani worried and thinking. It is not an everyday incident or act of crime at all. For if they do not speak out against it, and talk about it, so to educate the unaware masses out there, many of them could find the same treatment on the streets.

After this incident, I will never be able to defend Pakistani people again, ever.

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DISCLAIMER: None of the video clips have either been recorded or uploaded by the author, or owned by him. They have been taken from YouTube, where there are even more clips available for the same incident, and can be accessed by anyone.  The author only came to know about the incident on the day of the publishing of this post, that is, August 20, 2010.

Don’t Hate People Because They Disagreed

Are you one of those people who reject everything said by the people they don’t like, just because of their opinion about them?

Our emotions, and even more importantly, our prejudices can badly affect our reasoning. In fact, our negative emotions and prejudices themselves become our reasoning while dealing with people or matters which can trigger their appearance. People representing conflicting political viewpoints are a good example of that.

Prejudices are not something to feel guilty about. Everyone has prejudices and nobody is an exception. Prejudice of the race can be the most instinctive of all prejudices, because of the immediate realization of a physical difference.

Although as citizens of the global village, we may have overcome prejudices of race and ethnicity, but they stand as strongly today as they did ever since humans first came to realize it. Everyone has this prejudice even in the modern world, although it largely goes unspoken, showing its face from time to time. Prejudice against gender is also an important factor.

Then come more sophisticated types of prejudices, such as against religion, country and political orientation. Although all three of these factors can easily be integrated into political prejudice. Our civilized minds have given rise to these entities, and have only offered ourselves new reasons to hate each other.

Prejudices have always been there, and they will always remain to be there if the masses of the world continue with the same kind of upbringing that they had been subjected to. But how can we overcome prejudices is the question.

You can overcome prejudices with education and tolerance. And when I say education, it certainly does not just mean academic degrees and several years in college. Some of the most academically decorated people who I knew of were the most prejudiced ones, coincidentally.

This, by no means, suggests that academic or formal education is not important and must not be pursued, but the point to understand is to recognize the difference between being educated and being literate.

Education tells you of the evils of violence and of the advantages of tolerance. Education can make you a tolerant person, and a tolerant person can curb his or her prejudices more easily than an uneducated and violent one.

Therefore, you can suppress your prejudices through education, as you cannot destroy them from your unconscious.

Largely, the way we are brought up is responsible for deep-rooted hatred and prejudices. Only if you are able to educate yourself can you be able to get rid of your childhood prejudices imprinted on your minds by your environment, most importantly, by your parents and teachers.

It is prejudices like these which can be a hindrance to the common understanding of the importance of peace and the willingness towards it between the conflicting parties. Countries like India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine, USA and Iran and many other examples like these can illustrate how prejudices can easily come into play as a hurdle to peace.

Children of one conflicting party are brought up being taught by their elders to hate the other conflicting party, and when I say hate, I literally mean hate. Just like hatred was used by the Catholic Church as a tool during the Crusades, and as it is used by Islamic extremists for terrorism.

Even if you want to be realistic to teach the young ones of the possible dangers from a potential “enemy”, then you can warn him or her of the possibility, while strictly discouraging any feeling of hatred. History should be learned as objectively and scientifically as possible.

An educated person knows about the importance of life. And as soon as you realize what being alive means and that you have no right to take the life of another, you immediately come to realize that you should abstain from violence and that you should respect every living being, not only your fellow beings, humans.

This realization will help you to understand that there are humans, and more importantly, living beings, with the same feelings as you, on the other side of the conflict. And that they may be having ideas as valid and reasonable as you, if only you chose to consider them for a while, and tolerate them. Believe me, if you do consider them for a while, you will be able to tolerate them.

Abraham Lincoln once said, ” I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

This is what overcoming a prejudice or hatred is all about.

You  should not change your mind about people just because of political changes.

You should not hate someone just because they disagreed. What if they were right?