Friday, January 23, 2015

JE NE SUIS PAS CHARLIE (I AM NOT CHARLIE) (2)


This week, we shall see the hypocrisy behind the so-called secularism (or in the French case, Laïcité) which has allowed rogue press like Charlie Hebdo to insult the religion of over a billion people without official consequence. The French government claims that as a state practices Laïcité; it supports no religion or irreligion; a case they made for why although they did not approve of what Charlie Hebdo did, they could also not stop it, curtail it or even sanction the paper. Let us see whether facts and history support this claim.
Take this entry from Wikipedia for example:
“Although the concept of separation has been adopted in a number of countries, there are varying degrees of separation depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper relationship between religion and politics. While a country's policy may be to have a definite distinction in church and state, there may be an "arm's length distance" relationship in which the two entities interact as independent organizations. 
“A similar but typically stricter principle of laïcité has been applied in France and Turkey, while some socially secularized countries such as Denmark and the United Kingdom have maintained constitutional recognition of an official state religion. The concept parallels various other international social and political ideas, including secularism, disestablishment, religious liberty, and religious pluralism. Whitman (2009) observes that in many European countries, the state has, over the centuries, taken over the social roles of the church, leading to a generally secularized public sphere.
“The degree of separation varies from total separation mandated by a constitution, as in India and Singapore; to an official religion with total prohibition of the practice of any other religion, as in the Maldives.
“For centuries, monarchs ruled by the idea of divine right. Sometimes this began to be used by a monarch to support the notion that the king ruled both his own kingdom and Church within its boundaries, a theory known as caesaropapism. On the other side was the Catholic doctrine that the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ on earth, should have the ultimate authority over the Church, and indirectly over the state. Moreover, throughout the Middle Ages the Pope claimed the right to depose the Catholic kings of Western Europe and tried to exercise it, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, such as was the case with Henry VIII of England and Henry III of Navarre.
“In the West, the issue of the separation of church and state during the medieval period centred on monarchs who ruled in the secular sphere but encroached on the Church's rule of the spiritual sphere. This unresolved contradiction in ultimate control of the Church led to power struggles and crises of leadership, notably in the Investiture Controversy, which was resolved in the Concordat of Worms in 1122. By this concordat, the Emperor renounced the right to invest ecclesiastics with ring and crosier, the symbols of their spiritual power, and guaranteed election by the canons of cathedral or abbey and free consecration”
The German priest, Martin Luther, was one of the first proponents of ‘the two kingdoms’ that saw Europe change in the 16th Century. It was his proposition that the church should have little or nothing to do with the state and vice versa.
Matters came to a head in the 1530s when King Henry VIII announced himself the head of the newly founded Church of England and outlawed any other denomination. Catholics fled to Northern America away from the persecution in England. They grew in number and strength until the 1770s when they revolted against King George III, marking the beginning of what is now the United States of America. Greatly influenced by the writings of John Locke, one of the things the new state did was to abolish the the establishment of religion by Congress.
From the little I have cited above, it is clear that the history of secularism lies in the struggle for dominance between those who abused spiritual authority and those who abused temporal authority. It was not for any altruistic reasons. The group that won the battle is the one determining what is right and what is wrong today. In trying to ban the influence of religion on the affairs of state, they have fallen into the same trap they claimed that they sought to destroy - the misuse of power.
Out of that irresponsible, yet powerful ideology many horrid ideas have sprung. It is from the fountainhead of secularism that concepts like free speech and LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transvestites) grew. Secularism has become a religion in itself. Talking or arguing against it is deemed another form of blasphemy now.
In essence, we have a French government whose laws had a distinct Christian history that they seek to blot out with the godless concept of laïcité. Yet, this is just on paper. Let us see some examples.
In the two French provinces of Alsace and Moselle, the Concordat between France and the Holy See remains because the area was under German control when the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State was passed. Catholic priests as well as the clergy of three other religions (Lutheran, Calvinist, and Jewish) are paid by the state, and schools have religious courses. 
Moreover, the Catholic bishops of Metz and Strasburg are named (or rather, formally appointed) by the French Head of State on proposition of the Pope, which interestingly makes the French President the only temporal power in the world to formally have retained the right to appoint Catholic bishops, all other catholic bishops being appointed by the Pope.
The French President is ex officio, a co-prince of Andorra, where Roman Catholicism has a status of state religion (the other co-prince being the Catholic Roman Bishop of Seu de Urgell, Spain). Moreover, French heads of state are traditionally offered an honorary title of Canon of the Papal Arch-basilica of St. John Lateran, Cathedral of Rome. Once this honour has been awarded to a newly elected president, France pays for a choir vicar, a priest who occupies the seat in the canonial chapter of the Cathedral in lieu of the president (all French presidents have been male and at least formally Roman Catholic, but if one were not, this honour could most probably not be awarded to him or her). The French President also holds a seat in a few other canonial chapters in France.
In Wallis and Futuna, a French overseas territory, national education is conceded to the diocese, which gets paid for it by the State (for all the quotations, please visit this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state)
Having thus shown that the government is not entirely separated from involvement in religion, we go on to examples of where the French government and other western governments have used state powers to protect other religious groups from verbal or physical abuse by anyone; including the press.
In the United Kingdom, for example, it was a crime to blaspheme against God or the Anglican Church.  As part of the drive towards godlessness at the helm of affairs, that was removed in 2008. 
‘All blasphemies against God, including denying his being or providence, all contumelious reproaches of Jesus Christ, all profane scoffing at the Holy Scriptures, and exposing any part thereof to contempt or ridicule, were punishable by the temporal courts with death, imprisonment, corporal punishment and fine.’- (Whitehouse v Gay News Ltd [1979] AC 617 at 665). 
In the United States, the State of Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania have laws that refer to blasphemy.
In France itself, the Gayssot Act of July 13, 1990, makes it illegal to question the existence of crimes that fall in the category of crimes against humanity as defined in the London Charter of 1945. When Robert Faurisson challenged the act, the Human Rights Committee upheld it as a necessary means to counter possible anti-Semitism. In 2012, the Constitutional Council of France ruled that to extend the Gayssot Act to the Armenian Genocide denial was unconstitutional because it violated the freedom of speech
What we learn from the above is that there has always been a supermarket shopping approach to how the governments of various countries have treated the protection of other people’s religious and human rights - they pick what they like and drop what they do not. The same government that forbids me from saying I do not believe there was a holocaust says it is right for me to say I did not believe the Turkish government once murdered a large number of Armenians. Both were genocides but I could dismiss one without any fear and yet I will be jailed for dismissing the other! Just like Animal Farm, where some animals were more equal than others.
The average Muslim and Christian is unaware of these facts and therefore makes highly uninformed choices when he has to  decide whether to support or condemn actions that are results of an exercise of the so-called free speech.
I also saw people like Netanyahu and others in a march against the terrorist suppression of free speech that they claimed the shootings symbolised. It was an irony to see them in that kind of protest when notably, Obama’s government is trying to capture and jail two whistle-blowers that exposed the lies of the CIA and other agencies murdering innocent, unarmed people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries they have invaded in the last decade or more. Netanyahu is an accomplished mass murderer and a violent repressor of free speech. Snipers routinely murder neutral journalists covering the angles of the war that the Israeli government does not like to be covered.
In response to these hypocritical acts of the western world, many of our less informed brethren resort to sometimes-unwise acts of self-help. Every time blasphemous literature surface about Islam, the unthinking reaction for some has always been to go on the streets protesting. The jobless and the mischievous mix up with this crowd of protest and wreak havoc. Ironically, the greatest casualties are the Muslims themselves.
It is time to think in a new way. The law has guaranteed an unfettered use of free speech. Let us use it. In doing this, do not insult a religion or a god. The Islamic way is to address the issues. As I wrote earlier, those who are inciting us to react have an agenda behind their incitements. They get the results they want when we go berserk on the streets and attacking people who had nothing to do with the murder. That is a daft thing to do. Use the moment to educate as many people as possible about Islam and its prophet (PBUH). It reminds me of a group that has been asking for the credentials of their opponent to contest an election when what they should be asking is why their man should even be allowed to govern a primary school.

Despite the amount of desperation to make money which has driven a paper to caricature the noblest of humanity, we will behave in a noble manner and comport ourselves like the best of humankind. They may be crude, uncouth, irreverent, insulting and godless but we cannot descend that low to reply them, we are Muslims, we are not Charlie!

Friday, January 16, 2015

JE NE SUIS PAS CHARLIE (I AM NOT CHARLIE) (1)



On 7 January 2015, two men opened fire in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo (French for Charlie Weekly), a French satirical weekly newspaper, and killing twelve people, including staff cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous and Wolinski, economist Bernard Maris and 2 police officers, and wounding eleven, four of them seriously.
During the attack, people alleged that the gunmen shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is the Greatest" in Arabic) and also "the Prophet is avenged"- convenient phrases anyone could use while causing mayhem even if they have nothing to do with Islam.
Sigolène Vinson, a female visitor to the offices, claimed one of the gunmen said to her, "I’m not killing you because you are a woman and we don’t kill women but you have to convert to Islam, read the Qur’an and wear a veil". It sounded similar to what people allege another set of mad men, Boko Haram, say in Nigeria to their female victims.
President François Hollande described it as a "terrorist attack of the most extreme barbarity.” The two gunmen were allegedly identified as Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French Muslim brothers of Algerian descent.
It was the famous Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie who said, “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person”. She said,  “The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, ‘secondly’”.  “Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story”.
The world rightly expressed outrage, like every sane Muslim did, at the destruction of lives in the office of Charlie Weekly (a.k.a. Charlie Hebdo) but only a few are asking how matters got to that point. Almost everyone started the story of the attack from the shooting, thereby telling a different story of the events.
A married man catches another man in his bedroom and in a fit of rage hits the usurper, who promptly dies. Everyone would express shock and disapproval at the murder he has committed but many would also understand that he had good reasons to be angry and they will be less condemning of his actions than they ordinarily should. 
Any unbiased follower of the remote and immediate causes of the gruesome murder of the 12 men would not fail to see a pattern. He would also see the predictability of the response of Muslims, which has helped the cause of the goading cartoonists and their collaborators more than anything else has.
Take the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights for example. In its editorial of the same day (January 7) which was titled “MUSLIMS ARE RIGHT TO BE ANGRY”, Bill Donohue, the League’s president said, “Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.
“Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.
“While some Muslims today object to any depiction of the Prophet, others do not. Moreover, visual representations of him are not proscribed by the Koran. What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them”
In response to comments like this, other commentators see Donohue as a partial judge. After all, they say, Charlie Hebdo lampooned the Catholic Church on more than one occasion. One, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, went as far as to say that no religious body has the right to protest the ‘free speech’ that she claimed Charlie Hebdo represents. She has a background of attacking Islam. She was initially raised Muslim before becoming the atheist she is today. She collaborated on a short movie with Theo Van Gogh, entitled Submission (2004). It was a movie that was critical of Islam and it provoked controversy leading to death threats against both of them. A Dutch Muslim assassinated Van Gogh later that year. She hardly qualifies as unbiased.
Russian Orthodox Christians from the "God's Will" movement called the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists "blasphemers" who "received a just punishment, while Cartoonist-journalist Joe Sacco expressed grief for the victims in a comic strip, and wrote: ”but ... tweaking the noses of Muslims ... has never struck me as anything other than a vapid way to use the pen ..”. In reaction to the killings, #KillAllMuslims became a trending hash tag on twitter.
La Monde, the influential French paper reported that more than 80 per cent of students in a randomly sampled school did not observe the one-minute silence in honour of the slain cartoonists. The students said the idea of free speech that allowed people to make fun of others’ religions was not compatible with their faith.
No one is asking why Charlie wants to incite the anger of otherwise loyal readers of the paper. Before we attempt to dissect their motives, we should look back and see the history of such caricatures and satires against religious symbols and specifically, against Islam.
It might interest my readers that Muslims started this madness, long before the 2005 Jyllands Posten cartoons that started the first set of worldwide protests against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Historians vary in their dating, but there are drawings of the Prophet (PBUH) that date back to 700 years old. These pictures are the exact opposite of what the Messenger of Allah instructed: 'Abdullaah ibn Mas’uud (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Those who will be most severely punished by Allaah on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers." (Reported by al-Bukhaariy, see al-Fath, 10/382)
That later on, secularists in Denmark and France would officially draw pictures of the Rasul was just a matter of time. I wrote here recently that many of my brothers and sisters in Islam behave unjustly and inconsistently at injustices. I was referring then to the unnecessary protests on the removal of the Ajami words from the  100-naira note on one hand and the lack of protests at the inclusion of a Qur’anic verse on the Army coat of arms on the other. 
The Ottoman rulers of the Muslims and the Shiites, for example have a rich history of drawing pictures they claim to be Muhammad (PBUH). Although many of them, in fairness, were condemned by scholars of the time, they have remained as part of our so-called ‘Islamic heritage’ in Museums worldwide unrevoked and without further protestations. We display the worst form of our hypocrisy when other prophets are depicted in cartoons and illustrations. There is no outrage at all, as if it is less a sacrilege if the prophet is not Muhammad (PBUH). We refer to him as ‘our Prophet as though the rest are not our prophets. We ignore any blasphemous use of their identity and character.
There have been countless depictions of our prophet Isa (Jesus, PBUH) in ‘blockbuster’ movies. The most recent sacrilege was committed against Prophet Musa (PBUH) in the ungodly movie they call Exodus. Before that, there was Noah, depicting Prophet Nuh (PBUH) and before that, the Innocence of Muslims.
Dante depicted the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) being dragged to hell in his notorious work, Inferno. La vie de Mahomet, by M. Prideaux, published in 1699 also shows Muhammad holding a sword and a crescent while trampling on a globe, a cross, and the Ten Commandments. In Gustave Doré’s illustration of Dante’s the Divine Comedy (1861), he also showed the prophet (PBUH) suffering punishment in Hell (Canto 28). Such was their hatred for Islam and Muslims.
However, in late September 2005, a Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten published cartoons with which they depicted the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). About 3,500 Muslims demonstrated against the attack. In November of the same year, several other European newspapers reprinted the cartoons in an obviously choreographed attempt to stoke the anger of Muslims worldwide. This marked the beginning of what we are witnessing today in the world.
What many were unaware of was that in April of 2003, Jyllands-Posten denied an unsolicited submission that caricatured the resurrection of Jesus (PBUH), with the reason, that they were not funny, and would "offend some readers, not much but some". This is to dispense with the notion that there were no ulterior motives behind the 12 cartoons. 
One of the cartoons showed a bearded man with a menacing evil look on his face having a bomb on his head in place of a turban. Another showed a murderous Muhammad with a sword in hand and two veiled women in black behind him.
Due to the outrage the cartoons generated, Jyllands Posten apologised for the insults in January 2006. It was on the 8th of February that Charlie Hebdo joined the fray, republishing the 12 cartoons. Not to be outdone, they added a few more caricatures of their own. This led to more riots in Pakistan, where men attempting to attack the French Embassy were shot, and in Libya and Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Charlie Hebdo had hitherto been a 100,000-copy weekly satire paper. Apparently, due to the newfound fame, they sold 250,000 copies that week. It is that financial angle, more than anything else that I think has been informing their choice of outrageous satires and lampoons to publish.
Take for instance, the sacking of their long-time cartoonist and editor, Sine, for what they described as his anti-Semitism after he did a caricature of President Sarkozy’s marriage to a Jewish woman. It shows that the paper picks where to give the most offence. They seem to calculate the enormity of the outrage their actions would generate and how that would be tied to the popularity of their initially dying paper. By the way, Charlie Hebdo was banned on two occasions during the reign of President Charles de Gaulle. Their current attack on the Prophet of Islam has yielded some serious funds. They now print and sell about a million copies of their paper.
Many of the cartoonists do not practice any religion, which explains why they take an occasional swipe at Judaism and Christianity too. In one horrible example, they drew a depiction of ‘the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” in a threesome sexual encounter. Their aim is to give maximum offence that will drive sales, similar to the actions of prostitutes who sell their wares by wearing revealing clothes. Another caricature of the Catholic Church showed the Pope holding out a condom like the Holy Communion wafer. By far the most frequent recipients of their senseless and hateful cartoons have been Muslims and Islam.


Friday, January 9, 2015

DESERTION IN THE HOUR OF NEED


              Mahmoud Abbas signs international agreements, including the ICC's Treaty of Rome



A deserter-friend gives you his word, stirs up desires in you, excites and urges you with false promises of succour only to deceive and backslide when you need help most. A bad comrade deserts you in the hour of need, and leaves you in the lurch!

After submitting that resolution which aimed at ending Israeli illegal and cruel occupation, Palestine leaned its ladder against the wrong wall by assuming that a Judas  would honour the pact of a yes vote. The other eight nations fulfilled their vow by voting yes to the resolution which ‘outlines a framework for negotiations based on the borders that existed before Israel captured the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. It also sets a deadline for a peace deal within 12 months and the cessation of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories by late 2017.’ Nigeria would have been the ninth, but it reneged on a ratified covenant of supporting the resolution. By its abstention, Nigeria has sealed the fate of the resolution, and supported the status quo, which is ‘continued Israeli defiance, settlement construction and violation of international law.’

Nigeria has exchanged peace, dignity and statehood of Palestine for telephone calls from Natanyahu and Kerry - a profitless traffic. World leaders worth their salt take decisions with the interests of their countries at heart, weary of the approbation of their fellow citizens. They are, thus, not overawed or carried away by hidden agendas, sugarcoated in diplomatic artifice. But what do you expect from a leadership that does ‘not give a damn’?

This abstention by Nigeria is likely to cause another problem for Palestine in its application for membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC), because in a similar attempt in 2009, the ICC Prosecutor rejected the request ‘arguing it was unclear whether Palestine was a state. However, its status was since upgraded by the UN General Assembly and more recently by other ICC member states, making it likely the court will accept Palestine's bid this time.’

As expected this application by Palestine for ICC membership was opposed by Israel and the self-appointed ombudsman in all crises, the US. Israel said  that ‘$127m collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority last month would be held back.’

‘This is “robbery and an act more appropriate to pirates and not governments,” chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said of Israel’s move. The tax money is used to pay public sector salaries and is critical to running the Palestinian Authority.’

What is the difference between Putin and Netanyahu? The one is America’s foe; the other a bosom friend. Crimea became part of the Russian Federation through a Referendum Vote which America and the European Union considered illegal, and "nothing more than a land grab.” Israel, on the other hand, an illegal occupier of Palestine, a war criminal and violator of human rights, is portrayed by America and her allies as the victim of Palestinian violent attacks, and has, therefore, ‘every right to defend itself.’

It is high time the world, and our quisling-nation realised that the injustice in Palestine is the catchphrase for new recruits into terrorist organisations. They draw attention to the hypocrisy and double standards  of America and the West in handling the Palestinian crisis. Moreover, if there is one issue on which the entire Muslims have consensus - Sunni, Shi’ah, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, Fatah,  and whatnot - it is the injustice of Israel against the Palestinian people with the support of America and her allies. Muslims may disagree on the approach of ending the suffering of Palestine, as some will want to use any means necessary including killing the occupier, launching rocket into the enemy territory, and even suicide bombings; while others may prefer the roadmap to nowhere option, or the creation, on the cobweb, of a two-state solution in an endless peace process (read a process without peace) adjudicated by a biased arbiter! We can disagree on solutions, but as far as the problem is concerned, Palestine is a unifying nucleus for the entire Muslim Ummah.

In his 2008 audio message titled ‘A Message to the Peoples of the West…’ on the 60th anniversary of creation of the state of Israel, Sheikh Usama Bin Laden said ‘that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has always been the primary cause for friction between the West and the Muslim world’; this conflict, according to Sheikh Bin Laden, was made more difficult because of American and European policies that are biased in favour of the state of Israel.

"The Palestinian cause has been the main factor that, since my early childhood,… to stand by the oppressed, and punish the oppressive Jews and their allies," the al Qaeda chief said.

Sheikh Bin Laden went on to say "that 60 years ago, the state of Israel did not exist. It was forcefully created on Palestinian land under the fire of the weapons, and this is evidence that the Jews are invader occupiers who should be fought.

"We shall continue the fight, Allah willing, against the Israelis and their allies, in order to pursue justice for the oppressed, and we shall not give up one inch of Palestine, as long as there is still a single true Muslim alive.”

In the same message Sheikh Bin Laden accused the Western media of misleading the public to show "the Israeli invaders as the victims.

"On the other hand, they portrayed the Palestinians, who are claiming back their lands, as merciless terrorists," he said. "The media has contributed to the shaping of a misled public opinion that made it possible to involve Western nations in an unjust war against us, as has been the case in Iraq."

Not a few Muslims and even non-Muslims will concur with Sheikh Bin Laden on this issue. It is this type of speech that attracts people to jihadist movements around the world. The perpetrators of bombings and other acts of violence advance the Palestinian question as one of their reasons for striking at America and her allies. If the world halt the injustice against Palestine, extremist groups, jihadist and false claimants of Islamic caliphate will lose 60% of the ‘convincing points’ they employ in the rhetoric of recruiting new members. 

With Boko Haram conquering territories that even the armed forces could not reclaim, Nigeria should have put her interest at curbing insurgency first before playing Judas in an issue that will impact negatively at home.