The Evil Guardians of Islam

Source: presstv.ir

Source: presstv.ir

Muslims of the world could not be more unfortunate to have countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia in charge of their larger political leadership. Not only they are arguably the worst governments in the world, but they have somehow also become the spiritual leaders of the two leading schools of Islam.

Recently both the countries made the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage, controversial by bringing their ongoing political tussle into the sacred ritual. While the Iranian spiritual leader questioned the administrative control of Hajj by the Saudis because of their treatment of pilgrims, which apparently sounds like legitimate criticism, the Saudi side responded in an even worse manner. If you can consider the Grand Mufti the Saudi side.

The Grand Mufti declared that the Iranians are not Muslims. Ah, the “True Islam” problem, here we go again. But it is not as simple as that. His statement was discriminatory and arguably racist since he is implying that an entire nation is predisposed to be hostile toward Islam. Probably the Grand Mufti is confusing Islam with the Saudi Royal family and with the statement has cleared any doubts about him being the official mouthpiece of the Saudi establishment. Something that puts him more in a political than a spiritual role.

The Grand Mufti is a figure who may not be equivalent to the Pope but is at least supposed to be uncontroversial in his appeal to all Muslims. However, you could argue that his figure is one that pilgrims from all over the world revere. Now fortunately or unfortunately, Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh has to step down from delivering his Hajj sermon this year anyway, but for reasons related to his health, not his controversial statement.

But what does this mean for a common Muslim? Perhaps this means that the current Grand Mufti would lose the respect that his office deserves. And if the Grand Mufti would never have a choice but to be the official mouthpiece of the Saudi government, then perhaps it could even mean the loss of respect for the very office for good.

You can only feel sorry for millions of Muslims, who have to go through a lot of pain and even risk their lives to complete this ordeal of a ritual, to be at the mercy of such feuding powers. But that does not change how terrible the Grand Mufti’s statement is. The Iranians have simply won the argument with a battle of words, and the Saudi spiritual leader has simply forfeited his position by rejecting a nationality from a universal religion.

Perhaps the Iranian Supreme Leader is right. With such behavior, the Saudi authorities are disqualifying themselves from being the administrators of the universal ritual of Hajj. Earlier, the Saudi authorities have been accused of banning Yemeni pilgrims from Hajj following the armed conflict between the two countries, which the Saudi government denies.

Before the Ayatollah’s statement, even Iran had banned its citizens to perform Hajj as well out of security and logistic concerns and had blamed Saudis for the crisis. Saudi Arabia had cut off diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this year after protesters in Tehran set the Saudi embassy on fire in protest against the execution of a Shia scholar in Saudi Arabia.

Restricting Muslims from any nation, in word or in action, is a betrayal of the legacy of the Holy Prophet. That legacy should matter to the self-proclaimed guardians of Islam.

Sadly, the Iranian Supreme Leader and the Grand Mufti don’t realize that their irresponsible statements are putting common Muslims in a position where they cannot avoid falling into one belligerent camp against the other. They are forcing them to put in a position where they would end up disrespecting other Muslims whether they perform Hajj or not.

These evil guardians of Islam on both sides of the fence are the part of the problem and the world would be better off without them.

A version of the post was originally published in The Nation blogs
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Khawaja Asif, Traitors & the Pakistani Welfare State

Source: Sabir Nazar

Source: Sabir Nazar

Part I: The Traitorous Defense Minister 

Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Minister of Defense, has been under fire for his recent statements against the Armed Forces.

Of late, the Armed Forces have taken active offense to the relentless criticism on its institution from civilian sections, such as the media. Finally, we have an aggressive ISPR Director General on board.

But apart from the media, certain politicians have also been actively criticizing them as well. Especially from the party in power.

Source: Dawn

Source: Dawn

The incumbent PML-N Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has been at the forefront of this assault, more recently merely for stating that the Parliament is the more sovereign institute.

He had been particularly at it, when he was in the opposition during the reign of President General Pervez Musharraf and the last democratically elected government of the PPP led alliance.

Khawaja Asif may have been irresponsible but he has spoken his mind when it comes to criticizing the Pakistani military for certain practices.

As rightly pointed out by Ahsen Iqbal, the current confrontation has more to do with offering the under-trial General Pervez Musharraf a safe exit path than anything else. However, with the fallout of the assassination attempt on Hamid Mir, the counter offensive has taken a new turn.

In the currently on-going pro-establishment campaign on most media channels, one of Khawaja Asif’s speeches from 2006 was aired to prove his traitorous record.

I was startled by that speech which Khawaja Asif made on the parliament floor that I must confess I was not aware of. I have a feeling I must not be the only one. Had I been in charge of the ISPR, I would have made all efforts to prevent the airing of that speech on national TV, it was so revealing.

The speech was not just about the usual cries of military imperialism or the excesses breaching civil liberties in Baluchistan, but it concerned something lot deeper. Even for the Punjabi people.

 

Truer words have hardly ever been spoken on the floor of the Pakistani legislature.

Well for the most part.

There is no wonder why he is the latest entrant in the traitors’ Hall of Fame, or Shame.

——————————————————————————————————————

Source: geo.tv

Source: geo.tv

Part II: The Pakistani Welfare State

The last minute of the clip of this speech, mentioning the words “Welfare State” largely reiterates what I have been maintaining for quite a while now. Perhaps not on my blog though.

The people of Pakistan have been fed this false ideal of “Islamic Welfare State” right from the beginning. They have been fed a utopian fallacy that a state would be established which would provide them everything from food stamps and shelter to free education, and from utilities to free healthcare.

Actually, all these benefits have been reserved to the people in the government service, whether military or civilian. However, such entitlements, or privileges, which include insured housing, subsidized education and absolutely free healthcare have been particularly enjoyed by the military service.

In Pakistan, the military pretends that it is a profitable corporation with benefits only reserved for its employees. This approach has largely improved the acceptance of these institutional perks. Nobody should dare question “private property” right?

Furthermore, their absolutely inevitable national defense function and employment incentive have particularly ruled any possible political criticism out. At least in Punjab.

This is the current Pakistani concept of Welfare State, and one that has been widely accepted by the Pakistani people. As a matter of fact, one of the main aspirations of the-not-so-affluent classes is to uplift their living standards by entering the exclusive club of military and civilian government service.

As a matter of fact, there could not have been a better strategy for the exclusivist government club to strengthen and legitimize its power grab.

Pakistan is a classical example of a government entity that has a state and a large piece of land at its disposal. It would employ all in its means to perpetuate its hold and the most lucrative of such tactics is increasing government based employment. A mode of employment that is as useful to the economy as a leech is to human body.

Surprisingly, but perhaps not so surprisingly, the people of Pakistan celebrate the announcement of government positions. It is for precisely the same reason.

They are condemned to.

It is their only ticket to the dream of the Pakistani Welfare State.

What Sochi is All About

Source: Google Inc.

Source: Google Inc.

So it is a very politically correct and morally righteous thing to condemn the Sochi Olympics, isn’t it?

I mean my social media feed is having multiple orgasms over this beautiful Google Doodle.

Hey, Russia is homophobic. Fuck that event. I agree. But here is the deal.

There is something curious about the way Western media has covered this event, even before it kicked off.

All of a sudden everyone in the Free World has risen up for gay rights on a sporting occasion, which is a good thing by the way, even though still being on a learning curve to fully accept gay marriage.

But hey, I am not going to present a lot of logical fallacies to make the point. I’ll get down to business.

The coverage of the Sochi Olympics has mainly been about the Free World v Putin more than anything else. Certainly more than it has been about gay rights.

Because frankly, if it were really about discrimination, a lot of countries would not even be the members of the International Olympics Movement right now.

But I do not really expect people to even talk about that, because that is precisely what they do not want to be talked about from this side of the fallen Iron Curtain.

And while I am writing these lines, I see Gary Kasparov going after NBC for how they are covering the Sochi Olympics. Look who just jumped over the Berlin Wall. Good for him.

It is not an appropriate thing to say, but I don’t really have that kind of a job to lose.

The smear campaign of the Western media has really appeared to be more about Putin than it is about gay rights. Though some would argue this is precisely the point.

I am not usually for doubting intentions and would only comment on actions, but hey, I am commenting on actions.

And Google comes out with its gay Olympics doodle to insult Russia and undermine the Olympics. But it will be actually celebrated for that.

I mean I know Russians have been terrible organizers, to the point of being pathetic, and screwed up a lot of things. I even think they did not deserve the Olympics, but I guess that tomorrow Western nations would get to host the event too.

But at least the reliable Russian incompetence is offering a lot of schadenfreude to people who are upset the Western powers could not prevent it from getting underway altogether.

I don’t think it is very wise to sabotage an international sporting event with such political antagonism, and yes, this is precisely what it is. Even if about gay rights, though it is fortunate that the cause is gaining more traction as a result.

I guess if the media is so sensitive about political causes, they should make sure that all such issues should be taken care of before any major sporting event is organized.

Alright, I concede it is really a logical fallacy, but hey, this could happen.

The Arab media and the scattered Arab people should have called for boycotts of London 2012 to protest the Iraq War. Remember, Britain was the prime partner of the United States in turning Iraq into a junkyard.

Or perhaps, Google should ensure to draw a doodle condemning how the Fukushima Plant has contaminated the planet irreversibly ahead of the Tokyo 2020 event.

Hopefully, the media would not forget raising the anti gay laws in Qatar when the 2022 World Cup approaches. It’s good if some of them are already doing that.

But tell you what, it would not be half as much as what the Sochi coverage has been.

But I bet no one in the media would demand America to shut Guantanamo Bay down, to suspend anti gay laws in States at home and perhaps ask the Nobel laureate President to stop bombing random weddings from unmanned drones.

Living in the house of glass and throwing stones?

Yes, I know it is emotional blackmail. But this would be a rather conservative way to describe this sort of coverage of a sporting event by the Western media.

Putin is an authoritarian and it makes sense to trash his system. But there is a time and a place.

I am just waiting for the time for Russia to return the favor in the future events. There is a good chance that the authoritarian Putin would still be around for that long.

Putin is a propagandist too but his propaganda machines are not this loud.

And not half as much politically correct.

Not Glorifying Guns Anymore

Source: The Guardian

Source: The Guardian

It has been a couple of weeks, but I have been meaning to write this about Harvey Weinstein’s interview with my most favorite radio personality on Earth, Howard Stern. Now Howard has this way which makes it comfortable for people to talk to him. I mean if you are looking for a person who you would have Hillary Clinton talk to about her first orgasm, he is what you are looking for.

I am not going to put down the transcript, you can listen to the interview embedded below, but here is what he said. He said that he should not be saying this (rightly so), but he was going to do a film after which the NRA would wish they were not alive. Now curiously, Howard asked him, is it a documentary, which to me, makes the entire point of this post, that I am going to make rather more vulgarly and explicitly.

In another absolutely stupid, and even worse statement later, he claimed that he would not be producing films glorifying guns anymore. Even worse he agreed with his right wing critics. (Oh, there goes the Warsaw ghetto uprising project out of the window, not!)

What?

What does a film producer look like when he turns into a political activist?

A lot of conservative pro-gun commentators have criticized him for this statement, which I respect, with Sen. Ted Cruz even calling him a hypocrite (a bit too harsh in my opinion), but my problem with it is for a different reason.

It does not matter to me if Harvey is pro or anti gun. I don’t give a fuck about that. My problem is that he is making a film to send out this anti gun message. I am just curious how he would do that.

And I am a little disappointed because I am a huge fan of the wonderful films he has produced over the years. I wouldn’t write this if I were not. I have tremendous respect for Weinstein and I know my opinion probably does not even matter here, but here is what I think about it.

I just don’t like hearing those words from a man who knows so much about making films. But perhaps he just went with it in the whim of the moment though his later statement suggested otherwise, but as much as I respect him, my respect for him as an artist has gone way down. Though I hate to even admit it to myself.

Let’s just say I disagree. He said he should not be saying this, but now I am rather glad he did. Things like these should ruin a filmmaker’s reputation, but people don’t pay attention.

Now here is this fine line. Telling a story does not necessarily exclude it from being propaganda. And full of reinforcement of political views. You know, 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Dead Man Walking, All Quiet on the Western Front, Lincoln, Delta Force, the list goes on and on. And I admit, that film has historically always been at the heart of political propaganda, but I deeply despise and detest that. I simply cannot respect that as someone who writes stories myself, no mater how much I persuade myself.

Making anti Nazi films is a political view too. But you can just tell the story. You cannot expect people to adopt your political views by hearing them.

I mean I know a lot of people who would still hate Jews and love the Nazis after watching a Holocaust film. Why? Because they are assholes. But all you can do is tell a story.

Some of you may not be able to separate art from propaganda, but you can. Art cannot be neutral, nothing is neutral. But art is open. You are telling a story, you are not telling people what to do.

Martin Scorsese tells the story of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. He is not Michael Moore and it is not his business to tell people that capitalism is evil. He only tells them how this guy ended up. The End. You fade the fuck out.

Here is the problem.

Why is it that Weinstein thinks that people would really have any change of heart after watching this film? Because really, it is their own fucking business.

Has he conducted a survey of how many people disapproved of slavery after watching Django Unchained, or how many people have changed their minds about how much organized religion can mess a person’s life after watching Philomena, or maybe that George VI was not such an idiot after all after watching The King’s Speech?

OK, a lot of people must have stopped hating people with AIDS after watching Philadelphia or Dallas Buyers Club, or would have started sympathizing with Hitler after watching Der Untergang? But what does that even prove?

Then maybe people pissed at Django Unchained were right. though I don’t even recall what their outrage was about, it was so stupid.

Really, is this his concept of what film is meant to do and what filmmaking and telling stories is about? That sounds to me like Republicans saying that people become violent due to video games when explaining mass shootings.

Who knows. Maybe both of them are right. Maybe I am wrong on this.

Maybe we should go back to the time when the films were censored and cut out  and not rated. Maybe there really are things that people are supposed to see and those that they are not supposed to see.

Maybe moral conservatism and moral policing have all the answers to the problems of the world.

Maybe there should be a department of enforcing righteousness and forbidding evil as the Islamic Sharia prescribes.

Yes, I would twist this statement to this point, because this is precisely what it is about, whether you admit it or not. That is up to you.

I just think Harvey Weinstein should have been the last person saying that. Someone like Cher or Mia Farrow or Meryl Streep or Jon Stewart would make more sense.

I mean, sure you can make a film telling the story of the Aurora shooting incident in Colorado. That would make a great and moving film actually, but doing it specifically to destroy the NRA or achieve some other political goal or lobbying leverage would not help your cause as an artist. Why not make a fucking documentary about it?

Or perhaps that kind of lobbying content is just a repulsive idea for a storyteller, no strings attached.

People know shootings are terrible. They know what happened. They know it is a bad thing. They saw it on the news. They are not stupid. The pro-gun folks will still remain pro-gun. The anti-gun folks will remain anti-gun.

Those who think killing people is a good idea would most likely still think it is a good idea. Mass shootings will still take place. But taking guns away to prevent them is not a bad argument.

It may sound like making too much fuss about nothing to some, but hey, if I rubbed shoulders with him, I would break his balls real time for that. I read somewhere that Louis B. Mayer was upset with Billy Wilder for making Sunset Blvd, one of the best films ever made in history or at least Hollywood’s best, because it showed Hollywood in a bad light (what an idiot), but someone should be genuinely upset at Harvey for this statement. Sadly, only pro gun conservatives were.

And probably the anti gun liberals would have trashed them for that. But everyone missed what the statement was about, because many of them probably believe that too anyway. Therefore, the condemnations of films like The Wolf of Wall Street, Django UnchainedLa Voie lactéeThe Last Temptation of Christ and Passion of the Christ and many many more elsewhere.

To me, it is beyond being liberal or conservative. It’s just stupid.

Also, Harvey, I am all for Jews with guns (hey, why, Germany was a peaceful country), I actually prefer them with guns, as in Israel, as it could have avoided, or at least delayed the Holocaust. And will prevent them getting attacked from all sides today. Remember Yom Kippur War? (OK, maybe my pacifism has had a little reality check)

But what I am not for is a Jewish girl avenging her family by setting a theater on fire full of a crowd of innocent German families, despite being Nazis, and having soldiers shoot the hell out of them? Alright, there were criminal Nazi generals in there too and I don’t mind interfering in her brand of justice, but what the heck.

But what is that for a message you are sending out to the audience, since you think your films have such a massive political impact. It’s a spectacular, funny climax scene, I know, gotta love Tarantino, but from your understanding, it sends out a bad message to the kids supposed to hate guns. Doesn’t it?

Did what I just said about this scene sound stupid to you?

It does? Well, I don’t blame you.

Maybe Ted Cruz was right about him after all.

Well, Harvey Weinstein is not half as close to his honesty or understanding about propaganda as Goebbels, but maybe he is getting there.

But my brother just said to me. Don’t take him seriously. He was on Howard Stern.

I just cannot.

Django Unchained & On-Screen Morality

Source: screenrant.com (Universal/Weinstein Company)

Source: screenrant.com (Universal/Weinstein Company)

Over the past months, one of the most talked about controversies in Hollywood has been director Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained. A lot of people from African American and other communities objected to the depiction of slavery in the film and the franchise action figures. Director Spike Lee has refused to watch the movie out of respect for his ancestors. I respect their opinions.

For those who have not watched it yet, it is a story of a slave freed by circumstances, who embarks on an adventure to free his enslaved wife on the plantation of a racist and sadistic landlord with the help of an unlikely accomplice. It is an almost fantasy western, loaded with everything that Quentin Tarantino has a reputation for. Well, almost, if you know what I mean. But recommended.

The film has particularly come under fire for Tarantino’s excessive usage of the word “nigger” on the screen.

Of course, I can’t speak for the African American community, and I would welcome all those who would tell me to shut up on this, but I still could not understand what the problem was about after watching the film, which I would consider anti-slavery overall.

It actually seems to be a part of the incomplete trilogy of “Tarantino’s Frustration on Historical Atrocities”, starting with relatively mediocre Inglorious Basterds, in which (spoiler alert) a Jewish girl avenges the murder of her family by shooting the Nazi audience with the military leadership in a theater and setting fire to it. Django unleashes his wrath on his Caucasian “masters” in the most violent manner as well.

But what’s so new about it all? First of all, Tarantino is known to go over the top with his vivid and shocking non-linear story-telling, depiction of violence and abusive language. That’s not news. Secondly, it is a film that seeks to depict slavery, and you would think that a milder portrayal would not have done as good a job. Maybe its timing was perfect to set the audience’s mood for Spielberg’s Lincoln.

So using softer language would only have made the usual Tarantino audience die of laughing fits. Furthermore, it would have taken away the realism and believability, despite the absurd and exaggerated action sequences and fountains of blood.

While I would like to review the film separately, I am glad Tarantino won Oscar for best screenplay, his second since Pulp Fiction for the same category, though I guess movies like Amour looked like having a better choice. But it is a statement for the freedom of speech and an apt answer to the moralist critic. I would have preferred to see Samuel L. Jackson at least nominated for his part though.

Now coming over to the matter of on-screen morality, political correctness and appropriateness.

What you are showing on the screen depends on what you are talking about and it must. When storytellers mold their narrative to meet the moral standards of the audience or the critics, they cease to be storytellers in the first place.

You could reject it, criticize it, condemn it and even boycott it if you want to. However, calling for bans would be inappropriate in itself. But let us move on with the assumption that disagreements about on-screen morality do not take place at such a primitive level.

A motion picture is after all, just a motion picture and nothing more. It can be used for propaganda, but I would always prefer to see it used for art and entertainment.

I am not denying that the content and visuals and sound of the motion picture do not affect people. Indeed, they do which is the entire point of their exhibition in the first place.

However, it is up to the audience what they take home with them on watching a particular motion picture.

Depicting a torture scene loaded with racist slurs from a Nazi concentration camp could be seen as both sympathetic to the Jewish people and antisemitic.

If a person with sadistic tendencies who does not consider rape wrong and sees its depiction on screen, no matter how painful, then the chances are that person will take sexual pleasure in it. However, the same scene can affect another person to be moved by the portrayal of the trauma and pain and could develop sheer disgust and contempt for rape or anyone who commits it.

Shifting the onus to film and entertainment actually diverts attention from the responsibility of the educators. You cannot really expect every entertainment oriented medium to lecture people on morality all the time, whatever be the cause. That won’t happen because not only is it unrealistic and absurd, but too authoritarian in terms of moral policing.

Such films would be propaganda, not art. I know some directors try to do that all the time and I can’t begin to tell you how bad they make it look.

The trouble with our world is that it does not constitute of just good and considerate people. The darker side of humanity is far more apparent every other day than its empathetic one. It is a rather pessimistic way of looking at things, but ignoring it altogether would be idiotic actually. Besides, hardly any moral ideology is complete without an evil to fight.

Furthermore, if you believe in the correctness of your moral stance, then you should consider it strengthened by the depiction of its violation. A war movie could always be seen as anti-war, no matter how much it is glorified in it, especially if it is a realistic depiction. Movies depicting female objectification, rape and exploitation will always support the feminist argument, not otherwise. Films with racist dialogue would only prove how wrong and illogical racism is.

Someone finding inspiration from it to commit crimes would most certainly not have a problem with these evils in the first place.

Bad people do not need films to strengthen their wickedness. Good people need not be worried about the loss of their virtue by what is depicted on the screen.

Thoughts on November Gaza Strikes and the Middle East Conflict

Source: AP/Washington Post

You can’t expect people to act rationally or logically when they are being bombed, Israeli or Palestinian. If you think they do, then you know very little about humans. Though there are people out there who are paid to do so.

That’s why I think it’d take really smart people to handle the fragile Middle East situation. This is why I am worried that the Israeli policies could actually harm the Jewish people, even though they are designed to protect them, or offer the perception of protecting them.

Using force as a deterrent is probably a necessity there, especially in the early years when the memory of antisemitic fascist regimes was still fresh. It is relevant even today, but considering that Gaza does not enjoy that luxury would make you very concerned about their security too.

I believe the people living on the both sides have the same fears and desires. But thinking again from the Israeli perspective, I would be very concerned as an Israeli citiizen or diplomat about the image of the nation around the world. I know a lot of Israelis would prefer better security over a better world image. Who wouldn’t? I would too. Anyone would.

But this is something for the leaders to think about because it concerns the future. Unless we are hellbent to enact the Biblical or Hadith Apocalypse.

People often mention the wounded and the killed Israeli and Palestinian children and the propaganda about them. It’s not a question of whether a Jewish child dies or an Arab child dies. The question to ask is whether we would want a child to live in such a hostile environment.

Seriously, I would do whatever I can to prevent a child from living in a warzone (ideally anyone but why add more misery by forcing new people to suffer by shoving them into this world, though true in any other situation too). But can I, or can we? No.

If the Hamas regime is irresponsible, which I am convinced that they are, to the point that their policies don’t really reflect any sympathy for the security of their own people (if you ignore the fact that they are badly repressed by the Israelis), then what could be better ways to deal with them?

To a cynic, maybe build global consensus before bombing Gaza City. To a more rational person, maybe Israel and the US should stop blocking full Palestinian membership in the UN like civilized nations and lift the Gaza blockade and grant their states completely autonomous status like soveirgn countries and maybe give them a chance to prove their civilty once again.

But still if Palestinians are sensible, they would know that the intifadas are largely a lost cause today because the rest of the Arab world would rather really support Israel over them any time. Then again, is it a coincidence that the Palestinian resistance looks towards Iran? The enemy of your enemy is your friend.

I do think the Palestinian leaders could have done a lot more to ensure peace and are largely responsible for a lot of deaths over the years (Not because they should have as per their principles but because they lack political resources to fight Israel). But that’s politics. If only they were not obsessed with Jerusalem. Not that the Israelis are not.

The growing West Bank settlements and the policy of gradual Palestinian deprivation may have worked well for the Israeli occupation, but make a very poor case for Israeli peace efforts. In any case you would really want the violence to stop regardless of the political consequences. But in politics, land and power are more precious than life. Then again, there is liberty.

But the recent November strikes on Gaza have made an impact in some other way. The international community and media noticing the cruelty of the Israeli attack on Gaza this time for a change is significant. The image of the BBC photojournalist as posted above has shaken the West. Accussations of biased media coverage from both sides do not change the facts and the misery that both the affected people go through.

Therefore, both Israelis and Palestinians need to learn their lessons fast. Good luck to both of them for peace.

I know it almost sounds superficial, especially after these words echoing the conference halls on the conclusion of countless meaningless accords, but just in the memory of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, let us agree to stop the madness and say:

Shalom. Salaam. Peace.

Then again, it’s not important. Is it?

Blasphemy Scanners & the Responsibility for Violence

Source: archbishopcranmner.blogspot.com

There is a certain type of Muslims. I call them Blasphemy Scanners. They are pretty fervent and though they are educated and may appear to be pretty peaceful, they are as fanatic as your average uneducated mullah.

These are zealots absolutely infatuated with the fear of someone in some remote corner of some country in the Western World insulting the good name of Prophet Muhammad in one way or another. While you would find youtube to be absolutely clogged with verbal insults to the Prophet, you cannot possibly take real action against just about every bigoted individual, can you?

Therefore, the only possible instances on which you could possibly invite and incite fellow believers to take meaningful action is published blasphemy. Even then, not all published perceived blasphemies are graced by the attention of these blasphemy hunters. Nevertheless, they try not to miss the chance whenever they do get to learn about one. Because just like honorably righteous people who like to catch people having encounters of a sexual nature in these countries, they like to hunt for reasonable blasphemies to outrage about.

If not all, then most of you would be familiar with the Muslim belief that anyone insulting Prophet Muhammad should be put to death. This view may not necessarily be very fervently shared by all sects who claim to be Muslims, but I believe that mainstream Sunnis and Shias would agree on it, especially the former. This is why the awareness of almost all the perceived blasphemies involve rage and more often than not direct incitement to violence, depending on the anger experienced by the particular blasphemy scanner at the moment.

The recent controversy over the film Innocence of Muslims, which has disappointed many over its appalling artistic quality and concerns over misleading actors about its subject, has sparked violent riots all over Pakistan as expected. In a wave of violence that swept Pakistan from Peshawar to Islamabad and from Lahore to Karachi, 4 cinemas, at least 3 bank branches, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce building and outlets of a US food chain were set fire. At least 100 people were reported injured and 19 were killed. 1 policeman was also killed among countless injured, while several ATMs were plundered.

All this occurred on the “Yom-e-Ishq-e-Rasool Day” or the “Love for the Prophet Day”, a meaningless holiday declared by the Pakistani Government on Friday, September 21, 2012. Let us not for a minute go into the ridiculous idea of the holiday, which was of course meant to invite “peaceful protest” over the offensive film, but let’s talk about what really happened at the end of the day. The violence of the protesters all over Pakistan clearly demonstrated to the world how tolerant Muslims are and and how ridiculous their reaction is. But then again, as I have mentioned in an earlier post, it has all happened before.

The interesting fact is that most of the people have criticized and condemned the violent protests resulting in the loss of billions of rupees and priceless and precious human lives. What is even more interesting is that a lot of people, who have been reproaching other Muslims for not taking enough action over the insult to Prophet Muhammad, are now left with no choice but to condemn the violence too, because they apparently had some other ideas about how the protesters would demonstrate their wounded faith. These primarily include hypocritical religious scholars pretending to be peaceful on TV.

Granted that any calls for peaceful protests over any alleged blasphemy is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But when they reprimand them for “not enough action” and “lack of honor and faith”, what exactly do they want people to do but to act like a mob and try burning the American embassy or worse local civilian and police property down to ashes. It is apparently the most convenient thing in the world to dismiss any onus of violence when you are actually calling for it, but the truth is that these blasphemy scanners are very much responsible for directly inciting violence as a reaction to these perceived offenses. I would like to hear that some of them are guilty about it.

As a matter of fact, I would go as far as deducing that these blasphemy scanners are more responsible for inciting violence than the original alleged blasphemers, if the latter are at all. The reason for that is quite simple and straightforward. The blasphemy scanners are directly inciting a reaction, which is more often than not violent in case of  extremist Muslims, especially knowing that the accepted reaction to mainstream Islam for the offense is one of violence. We have witnessed the same reaction against the alleged blasphemers in the case of the blasphemous films or the satirical cartoons about Prophet Muhammad to be sure about that.

You could doubt my point about violent incitement against perceived blasphemies, but it is very much part of the faith of most Muslims and it is widely accepted by the community around the world. A few protest text specimens calling for the death of those who have been involved in insulting Prophet Muhammad.

Source: Arif Ali (AFP)/Al-Akhbar

Source: The Daily Nation

Source: IndexonCensorship.org – A Protest from London

Source: DNA Photo

The last two photographs would be really shocking for some. The first one, for those who believe that Muslims living in the West are moderates and the second one for those who consider eunuchs and transgenders to be the most peaceful and the weakest members of the Pakistani society. In the last photo, they are calling for the beheading of the perceived blasphemers too. I don’t really blame them as violent individuals by nature and oppose doing so. It is their unreasonable faith which pushes them to call for such mindless violence. As a matter of fact, a businessman refusing to participate in the violent protests was accused of blasphemy as well.

Here are a few clips of some of the mainstream ulema or the scholars of Islam openly calling for the death of anyone who insults Prophet Muhammad. This includes Sunni scholars including the Deobandi and Barelvi schools and also a Shia scholar, which covers pretty much everything. Just in case you thought your particular brand of Islam was any better. You may want to skip the videos, if you are already convinced.

You could argue that these perceived blasphemies, particularly the film Innocence of Muslims, were meant to provoke a violent reaction, but it can easily be disproved because as far as I understand those works do not involve any direct call to violence. As for the latest controversy, it is just a very poorly made motion picture that takes an alternative and derogatory look at what would or could have been the history of the origins of Islam, I don’t know.

But certainly there is absolutely no excuse or justification for inciting violence and carrying out those violent acts, even if we suppose for a minute that the blasphemous film did really call for violence against Muslims, still there would be no justification for such hateful statements and violent protests harming people who have nothing to do with the controversy. And many so-called peaceful Muslim scholars, who bear the prime responsibility of inciting all the violence then try getting away with a clean image by condemning it once the act is committed.

While this post may seem contradictory to the notion offered in my earlier post that most peaceful Muslims do not take part in violent protests, it actually is not the case. Peaceful Muslims do not take part in violent protests indeed, and yes there do exist peaceful Muslims contrary to what they would like you to believe.

But yes, most of them are infected with the inability to challenge the barbaric, violent and completely unreasonable beliefs that are a part of their faith, so they play silent and willfully ignorant witnesses to this madness. Maybe they are not religious enough to be violent or maybe they are choosing to remain silent out of love of their own dear lives, but that’s the way it is.

The reason why the attitude of the moderate Muslims, who have many critics who call them no better than the extremists, is dangerous because such violent beliefs are extended to persecute minorities such as the Ahmedis. It is a well known fact that Ahmedis are considered offenders of the concept of the Finality of Prophet Muhammad by Sunni Muslims and many of them believe that it is a duty to murder them. So there is absolutely no doubt that the faith is violent but the followers have a choice to follow the incitement to violence or not.

Even if the film was meant to spark violence, the ignorant and tactless extremist Muslims have surely helped its makers  and financiers achieve their objectives.

What is the defence of violence?

What we can probably safely say is that the film surely was meant to spark hatred for Muslims but that too in an indirect manner and it is not the first film in the world made for propaganda purpose. But does that justify banning it? Because if you were to advocate banning it for those reasons, then I would also recommend banning scripture, another form of propaganda, by using the same rationale.

Of course that would not be acceptable to any religious person so it always hurts when they get a treatment of their own medicine.

Learn to live with it.