Who is militant?
Even when the West has been continuously raising a big hue and cry about fundamentalist Islam taking over the world, results from democratic Malaysia’s general election, that returned the moderate Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi with bigger mandate and snatched away one of the two states that the opposition ‘Islamist’ PAS had won earlier, clearly belied the western propaganda about majority of Muslims as ‘militants’ and ‘terrorists’.
Even though Malaysia had 60% Muslim majority, the success of a moderate leader with the full support of Chinese and Indian minority votes, reconfirms the historical fact that Muslim and Islam can co-exist with non-Muslims without oppressing the minorities and without suffocating the role or identities of minorities.
This is in sharp contrast to India, where the current Hindu nationalist BJP is hell-bent to punish the minority of 150 million Muslims for the sin of their belonging to Islam. No day passes without BJP not coming out measures that is making the life of Muslim minority, a complete disaster on all human standards. The proactive discrimination that even takes the form of a state-sponsored genocidal pogrom shows up how Brahmanism cannot shed its age-old practice of ‘untouchability’ and caste-apartheid, which is strongly revived to make Indian Muslim the neo-lower caste Shudra.
However, if even the lower castes after thousands of years of subjugation, are revolting against the Brahmanical apartheid system in this new age of enlightenment, it is difficult that Indian Muslims will tamely give in to Hindutva’s violent attacks on their life and religion.
RSS’s political Hindutva, an anachronic plagiarism of pristine Hindu religion, with all its fire and brimstone assertiveness cannot long sustain its political successes, without strong reaction from the overwhelming 95 percent of the non-Brahmins.
GHULAM MUHAMMED, Mumbai
Shri L. K. Advani is reported to have said in Nagercoil that his latest *yatra* was not an expression of prime ministerial aspirations. Should we then conclude that he is but one of the horses let loose by his king, Shri A. B. Vajpayee, in following the ancient practice of *ashvamedha*? Another image comes to me from the 1950s: that of the man dressed up as a clown who would go around the entire town on a bicycle loudly advertising the visiting circus. Here the vehicle is different and the circus, unfortunately, wants to stay.
But let me be serious. Why is it that we shy away from speaking explicitly of the matter of succession? Every political system has and has had rules or precedents to govern who will take the reins if the head is to become defunct or non-functional for another reason. In present-day India the matter boils down to this one question: Will the successor come from the ruling coalition or from the largest party in that coalition?
Mukul Dube, Delhi firstname.lastname@example.org
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUSH
Dear President Bush,
Your popularity is on the decline and you may be voted out, but then this should not worry you for you can still remain the President. Remember, not very long time ago you "liberated" a country from a tyrant dictator, well now is the time for the people of that country to pay you back for this "noble gesture". Your opponent, Democrat John Kerry is loved only in America and cannot be compared to you who is popular elsewhere i.e. in many other countries. He has just one place to stand for the election, but you have Afghanistan, Iraq, Haitti to name a few.
You can now take charge of this country, your unmatched popularity would mean nobody would even risk standing against you and that would mean you will be chosen the President of Iraq unanimously. So noble was your cause in Iraq that you cared the least for the world opinion, and are even ready to "sacrifice" your office for it ( truly you deserve a noble peace prize, for which you have been rightly nominated ).
There are many advantages in your becoming the President of Iraq, Firstly, you will be the leader of the country with the second largest oil reserves and will then be in a better position to"exchange" this precious resource for the progress and rebuilding "your" Iraq ( a project so close to your heart ) in the way you would have liked. Secondly, your close friend in the region M/S KSA and Kuwait will feel comfortable and safe with you in close proximity, and finally you being the President of Iraq will be perfectly placed to find the WMD ( weapon of mass destruction ). Even if you don't find it the world will be convinced (after you become the President of Iraq ) that Iraq has WMD ( Worst Managed Democracy ).
So cheer up, for you will be President whether you win or loose the US elections.
Abdul Monim, Vashi, Navi Mumbai
There is a sudden surge of award nites these days. It is indeed amusing to see almost the same people on every television channel saying the same things over and over trying to make the viewers believe that each one of them is uniquely different forgetting that the similarity is so striking it is often difficult to differntiate one from the other...at times even last year`s show can pass for the latest. There is good money in it for all so its welcome and what`s so wrong in honouring the same people if they`ve done a fine job...the stress
(physical as well as due to monotony) is worthwhile for obvious reasons
One of the most interesting things that happened during one of such events was Salman Khan auctioning a trophy to give the money as donation to an old peoples` home in Bandra. He auctioned the trophy for 4,50,000 dirhams. Well that`s not very astonishing. What really opened my eyes wide was that the highest bidder actually was ready to shell out so much of his hard earned money just to say "hi to Salman" and get a tight hug from the star!! He could have proved himself to a magnanimous guy had he said he was contributing to a good cause. But in all honesty his truthfulness must be given due credit.
As for Salman Khan I think it surely was not the first time when his popularity has been thus acknowledged.
Zohra Javed, Allahabad
Beginning of terror’s end
With the unexpected defeat of the Spain’s Aznar, the fall of the dominos has begun. If the reaction of the people of Spain is any guide, echoes in all countries belonging to the ‘coalition of the willing’ seems to have the same message: war on Iraq was forced on the ‘majority of the unwilling’ through despotic decisions based on ruse and subterfuge.
The worst part is that the immediate crystallization of the voice of the Spanish people’s disenchantment with their government’s unilateral decision to join Bush and Blair, followed an act of terror by the forces, that have been protesting and fighting the game of ‘regime change’ in the Middle East, at least as far as Afghanistan and Iraq is concerned. It has proved to the world that it too can play the game, now that the gloves are off. And they don’t need trillions of dollars to prop up dying defense industries.
While the US is past master in managing its own brand of camouflaged violence, mass protest, economic manipulations and international institutions, to achieve regime changes all over the world; the other side seems have a made its first kill, by openly sending out a bloody message to their cocky adversaries in the West.
It will not require any superior intelligence to read the warning on the wall: Bush and Blair, both will suffer the wrath of their own disgruntled populace, who have suffered the worst kind of deception, in the pursuance of an agenda, by a group of people, be that in Israel, the US or the UK, who had no mandate from their own people at large to involve the world into a never ending future of war and misery.
The loss of human life, both in Spain, New York, Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be differentiated on arbitrary standards of right and wrong. Human life is precious everywhere and the blood shed should be stopped by both sides at their earliest.
GHULAM MUHAMMED, Mumbai
The Dancing Bear
Once upon a time there was a popular kind of street show: a bear would dance for the amusement of passers by, who would throw coins into his box. The bear was big and frightening, but his clumsy movements made people laugh. He was much stronger than his master, who kept him on a chain, but submitted to him completely. A wonder to behold.
The national symbol of the United States is the eagle. The bear, as everybody knows, is the national symbol of Russia . But looking at the Sharon-Bush relationship, it is the old master-and-bear show that inevitably springs to mind.
Ariel Sharon plays games with the American bear. He makes him dance, jump, lie down and get up again, turn around and perform somersaults, much to the amusement of the Israeli public.
Every few months Sharon invents a new act. The bear applauds and does what he is commanded to do, until the performance loses its novelty. Then Sharon comes up with something new.
That happened with the act called the Road Map. To be accurate, this one was not invented by Sharon , but by the bear himself. Bush had a Vision. A real inspiration. "Two States for Two Peoples." Something new and revolutionary.
(Never mind that the 1947 UN resolution establishing Israel included this, and that Israeli and Palestinian peace activists had been preaching this idea for decades. The bear's brain works slowly, and, as the saying goes, better late than never.)
This vision brought forth the Road Map. A very complex and convoluted map. If an ordinary driver had to find his way with such a map, he would never see his destination. But the map bore the personal stamp of the President of the United States , as well as the signatures of Europe , Russia and the United Nations. So who could have any doubts about it?
The act started in Aqaba. George Double-U likes to have his picture taken against impressive backgrounds. Indeed, it seems that he spends considerable time and energy choosing the backdrop for his next photo – an aircraft carrier, a full army division on parade, jubilant soldiers in Baghdad ... . This time, too, he found an impressive background: tropical shore, blue sea, tall palm trees, exotic landscape. Sharon and Abu-Mazen performing as extras. They received the Road Map in a solemn ceremony, much as Moses received – not far from there – the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
But photos can lie, and this one was misleading, too. It was not Sharon who was the extra in this act, but Bush. It was not the bear who made his master dance, but the other way around.
The act was devoid of content. The Road Map was already dead before it was born, because Sharon never dreamt of following its course. He has a different map, different routes and different destinations.
On the face of it, Sharon's response was "Yes, but ..." He added 14 reservations that emptied the document of any content. They stipulated that the Sharon government would implement its part of the deal only after the Palestinians had accomplished a number of impossible tasks. The Palestinians, of course, could not, and the result was that Abu-Mazen disappeared from the scene.
And Sharon ? He played the game to the end. Sent emissaries to Washington , conducted talks, received American functionaries, visited the White House and swore at every opportunity that he had no aim more sacred that realizing Bush's Vision. The American President melted and sang the praises of this "Man of Peace."
According to the Road Map, Sharon was obliged to remove all the settlements set up since the beginning of his term in early 2001. But he had the bear dance to the left and to the right, until the poor beast did not know the difference anymore. So, not all the settlements should be removed. Only the "illegal" outposts. (Illegal according to the laws of the occupation authorities, of course.) And not all the illegal outposts, by any means, just one or two. In the end, not a single one was removed. But the American bear danced on happily.
In the meantime, scores of new outposts have sprung up, all of them "illegal." The Israeli government connected them up with water and electricity and built new roads for them. Huge sums were spent on them – money taken from the education, health and welfare budgets. The older settlements, too, were expanded at a frantic pace. The landscape of the West Bank was changing visibly. Everywhere, new roads for the convenience of the settlers came into being. And the bear danced on.
To all of this, the Wall was added. At first, it was presented as a security fence, and it was assumed that it would follow, more or less, the 1967 Green Line. But soon it became apparent that it was cutting deep into the West Bank , annexing large tracts of land and turning the declared aim of the Road Map – a viable Palestinian state – into a mockery. The American satellites took pictures, and the bear still danced on. The main thing was, after all, that Sharon continued to praise the Road Map.
And then Sharon got fed up with the act, and perhaps he was afraid that the bear would get tired or nervous. So he invented a new dance: Unilateral Disconnecting. We leave the Gaza Strip, dismantle 14 settlements there, and, for good measure, some settlements on the West Bank , too.
So everything has started again right from the beginning. Emissaries are being sent to America . Emissaries from America are being received in Jerusalem . Sharon's confidant, Dov Weisglas, will go and see Condoleezza. An Israeli general will meet with an American general. Sharon will visit the White House. And in Israel itself the proper backdrop for the performance is being set up in the form of stormy demonstrations of the settlers, fierce denunciations by rabbis, threats of cabinet crises, dozens of articles by learned pundits promising that this time, this very time, the 101st time, he is serious. This time Sharon truly means what he says.
Washington is jubilant. Well, maybe it is not exactly the Road Map, but one can pretend that it is. The main thing is that Sharon is again shown to be a Man of Peace, ready for withdrawal and the dismantling of settlements. Who would have believed it?
This week, Bush sent Three Wise Men to Sharon (including Elliot Abrams, a gentleman slightly more Zionist than Sharon himself, if such a thing were possible) in order to ask politely: From where exactly does Sharon intend to withdraw? Exactly which settlements does he plan to give up? When exactly is it going to happen? And, please, could one perhaps have a look at a map?
Sharon laughed in their faces. No map. No timetable. No nothing. It is still an idea. People are working on it. Here in the corner, a Real General is thinking about it all the time.
Certainly. They will think, prepare papers, fly to Washington and back, Dov will meet Condoleezza, Sharon will see Bush. (In the meantime, the Americans are being asked to give some billions for the payment of compensation to the settlers. Since the Americans paid billions for installing the settlers in the first place, it is only right that they should pay a few more billions to move them out again.)
And so it will continue, until Sharon gets tired of this act, too. Then he will invent a new one. After all, the main thing is for the bear to keep on dancing.
Sheik Rahman email@example.com
‘Shri Ram’ on Bohra Muslims’ chests
A leading Gujarati daily GUJARAT MITRA (Surat) has published in its 28th January 2004 issue with the photograph and report of prominent Dawodi Bohra, Abbas Bhai in Dandi town in Gujarat and other members of Bohra, community who, under instruction of their religious head Syedna Muhammad Burhanuddin, went to Hindu religious priest, Sri Murari Bapu with a request to write 'Shri Ram' on their chests. The picture showed Murari Bapu writing 'Shri Ram' on the chest of Abbas Bhai. This new development of a drastic change in faith promoted by Syedna sahib, especially after meeting the hardcore Hindutva leader, Narendra Modi, has created an uproar in the Muslims of Gujarat. Muslim ulemas should seriously look at this new development and assess the kind of Islam propagated and projected by him and bring pressure on him.
S Akhtar, Khanpur Deh-392150
Man men kya hai
Kyaa kuchh kavi ke man me hai?!
Kyaa saahib ke man me hai?
Dhan hi dhan to man men hai.
Desh ki pragati mantra mukh me hai
Mandir ka nirmaan hi man me hai
Mandir-Moorti ko haath me le kar
Ek Ishwar ke bandon ko moorkh banaa kar
Sab logon par apni khudaai
Laadna hi to un ke man me hai.
Kyaa saahib ke man me hai?
Dhan hi dhan to man me hai!!
Sharf kahaan hai?!
Naam me hai sharf lekin
Kaam me voh dikhtaa hi kahaan hai?
Kaabe ka tawaaf sirf dikhawa
Siva bade satan ke aur kuchh dikhtaa hi kahaan hai?
Aatankwaad ke sthaapak ke rob me anne ke baad
Sharf baaqi rehtaa hi kahaan hai?!
S. Akhtar, Khanpur Deh
US, Israel — the real terrorists
The world is under seize. Anarchy and civil war are rampant in India, Palestine, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq etc., and resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives. The media of our country and of the Western nations blame Islamic militancy behind this, and therefore they are hell-bent upon abusing the religion of Islam. However, on the contrary the religion of Islam preaches world peace.
It is the USA, the so-called champion of world peace and democracy, which is threatening underdeveloped countries of the world and has accumulated weapons of mass destruction, whereas it searches for the same in Iraq, Iran, Syria and North Korea.
It is sheer paradox that those who fight for their fundamental rights are labelled as terrorists and those who suppress this movement justify it with the war on terror. Israel is nurtured by the US while the poor Palestinians are mercilessly butchered for fighting to free their own homeland from the oppressive zionist regime.
Dr S R K Khan,
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