Sunday, January 11, 2004

Ahmadiyya and "Kafir"



Dear Readers,

A few years ago, I have reviewed Tariq Ali's book "The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihad and Modernity". Here is a relevant portion of this review attached that deals with Ahmadiyya and Jamaat-e-Islami.

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
January 11, 2004

The Clash of Fundamentalisms – Part Three




By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

Jamaat-e-Islami and Maulana Abul Ala Maududi


Though the Seljuks had their empire, the

Turanians their way,

Though the Chinese ruled in China, the

Sassanian in Iran.

Though the Greeks inhabited broad, fruitful

Acres in their day

And the Jews possessed their cubit, and the

Christians owned their span,

Who upraised the sword of battle in Thy

Name's most sacred cause,

Or who strove to right the ruined world by

Thy most hallowed laws?

It was we and we alone who marched the soldiers to the fight,

Now upon the land engaging, now

Embattled on the sea,

The triumphant call to Prayer in Europe's

Churches to recite,

Through the wastes of Africa to summon

Men to worship thee,

All the glittering splendour of great

Emperors we reckoned none;

In the shadow of our glinting swords we

Shouted 'God to One.'

Tell us this, and tell us truly – who

Uprooted Khyber's gate?

Or who overthrew the city where great

Caesar reigned in pride?

Who destroyed the gods that hands of

Others labored to create,

Who the marshaled armies of the

Unbelievers drove aside?

Who extinguished from the altars of Iran

That sacred flame,

Who revived the dimmed remembrance of

Yazdan's immortal name?



- Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938)


One of the main towering opposing figures of Jinnah's vision was Maulana Abul Ala Maududi (1903-79). He completely detested Jinnah and Muslim League due to Jinnah and the party's adoption of Western secularization.

Maududi was brought up in a family with Sufi ascetic views, and "spiritually and materially disenfranchised after the defeat of 1857 mutiny/uprising which led to the formal closure of the Mughal court and the exile of the last emperor to Burma". Maududi in turn embraced the orthodox interpretation of Islam that rejected modernity and stressed the Koranic message. However, in time, Maududi learned English and read Western philosophy extensively. In the beginning he was a supporter of Congress party, but "after the disbandment of the Ottoman caliphate the twenty-one-year old Maududi became obsessed with this defeat and its effects in India." [1]
As expected, Tariq Ali presents Maududi as a vile character; therefore, more sources are sought to get a balanced picture of this Muslim scholar. According to the Jamaat-E-Islami official web site, Maududi was virtually a self-taught man, who, after his father's untimely death, had undertaken individual studies due to his withdrawal from the undergraduate studies from Darul Uloom at Hyderabad. "Thus, most of what he learned was self-acquired though for short spells of time he also received systematic instruction and guidance from some competent scholars. Thus, Maududi’s intellectual growth was largely a result of his own effort and the stimulation he received from his teachers. Moreover, his uprightness, his profound regard for propriety and righteousness largely reflect the religious piety of his parents and their concern for his proper moral upbringing." [8]

From his very early age, to support his expenditure, Maududi had chosen the profession of journalism. By the year 1920, at the age of 17, he became the editor of an Urdu magazine named "Taj". In the same year, a few months later, he was bestowed the editorship of the newspaper named "Muslim" (1921-1923) and then of "Al-Jam'iyat" (1925-28). "Under his editorship, al-Jam’iyat became the leading newspaper of the Muslims of India." [8]

Maududi believed that Islam was deteriorating from its true meaning. For him, "the only answer possible lay in the revival of Indian Islam". As Maududi detested Jinnah and his Muslim League due to its adherence to secular nationalism, he decided to counter Jinnah's Pakistan Resolution in Lahore of 1940 with a counter party that would oppose Muslim League and Jinnah in the political arena. Thus the creation of Jamaat-e-Islami as a 'counter-League'. To Maududi and his supporters, "if Pakistan was to become a true Muslim state then it needed a Maududi, not a Jinnah, to be its head. He denounced Jinnah and the Muslim League as blasphemers who were misusing Islam to promote a secular nationalism". [1]

According to Tariq Ali, Maududi's own views were very much in synchronize with the eighteenth century Arab preacher, Ibn Wahhab. Like Wahhab, Maududi fiercely believed that the fall of Islam was the result of abandoning the purity of the Koran. "Its undefiled message and pristine prescriptions were the only basis for exercising political power. Over the centuries, Islam had become a palimpsest, accreting foreign traditions and cultures and abandoning its initial aim. In this lay its tragedy. Hence the need for a total reversal. Only the corrective measures of an 'Islamic State' could reverse the decline" [1]

When Maududi was in Hyderabad, he has observed and admired the dedication of the local Communist Party cadres "and their ability to work with and influence peasants and workers who were far removed from any understanding of Marxism." Maududi felt that the party of Islam would have its own ideology, but its internal life and structure was modeled on the Bolsheviks, even though it pledged to work inside the existing constitution. Tariq Ali opines that Maududi's party, unlike Lenin's, was never designed to overthrow and transform the state machine, but to 'Islamise' the men who led society and infiltrate its institutions, initially the all-powerful civil service, and later the army. [1]

After the formation of Jamaat-e-Islami with its founder emir as Maududi, he and his new party colleagues moved from Lahore to Pathankot in eastern Punjab because "the new group had decided that it could not breathe in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Lahore. Secularism was too well established and temptations were rife". [1]

By this time Maududi had published a few books and earning royalties from his published books and from the sale of his magazines. A rival arose from the Jamaat-e-Islami, his name was Maulana Numani who was a devoted 'scholar-journalist from Lucknow'. He fervently argued that Maududi's earnings from the outside sources should be the common property of the Jamaat-e-Islami community: "the contrasting lifestyles within a single commune were unacceptable". Maududi countered Numani's arguments by stating that Koranic verses defend private ownership and "the intellectual property in question belonged to him, not to the party, or by extension to any state the party might create." Numani showed his clear disagreement with Maududi's explanation but however he chose to remain silent for the moment.

In due time, Nomani attacked Maududi once again with new allegations, condemning Maududi for his lack of piety. To prove his case, he sited the following cases:

1. Maududi's beard was the wrong size (i.e. not 7 cm) and shape.

2. Maududi was usually late for the dawn prayers.

3. Maududi's wife was immodestly attired in the presence of a male servant, that is, she did not veil or cover herself. [1]


Maududi was conciliatory on these allegations and 'muttered a few self-critical phrases, but refused to either repent or resign'. Now the enraged Nomani called for a special meeting of the central committee. There was a vicious arguments in that meeting and Maududi proposed to quit from his emir position or he suggested that 'they could dissolve the party and go their separate ways.' Nomani was all for the dissolution of Jamaat-e-Islami but his pleas was resoundingly rejected by the central committee. Nomani and his faction of Maududi's opponents left the party and publicly denounced Maududi and Jamaat. All these internal commotions resulted, in later years, in neutering the democratic council and 'the emir became the dominant figure: a combination of Stalin and Khomeini.' [1]

By 1940 Maududi's writings were translated into Arabic, "soon echoes of Maududi were heard in Cairo and Jiddah'. Tariq Ali opines that by 1950s "an Islamist triangulation was in place: Wahhabism, Maududi's Jamaat-e-Islami and the Muslim Brothers dominated Islamist discourse. These were the groups seen by Washington as an essential ideological bulwark against communism and radical nationalism in the Muslim world." [1]

Tariq Ali also points out that "all the armed Sunni-Islamist groups who are engaged in the Jihad against other Muslims and the Great Satan are the children of this constellation". [1]

In the beginning of Pakistani history, Jamaat-e-Islami couldn't make much inroad into the newly formed Pakistani government because government employees were forbidden from engaging in any political groups. This lead to Jamaat-e-Islami's readjustment of its political goal, and it declared itself as the caretakers of Islam in Pakistan. They boldly demanded the outlawing of the Ahmadiya faction of Islam.



[To Be Continued in Part Four]

Part One Location: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MuktoChinta/message/3022

Part Two Location: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MuktoChinta/message/3183



References:
1. Tariq Ali, "The Clash of Fundamentalisms – Crusades, Jihads and Modernity", Verso, London, New York, 2002.

2. http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=574&ncid=721&e=3&u=/nm/20020822/wl_nm/pakistan_constitution_dc_5

3. "Another Leap in the Dark" Dawn, August 23, 2002, http://www.dawn.com/2002/08/23/ed.htm#1

4. Munir Ahmad, "Musharraf Broadens his Powers and Privileges", The Globe and Mail, August 22, 2002. http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/PEstory/TGAM/20020822/UPAKK3E/International/international/international_temp/1/1/22/

5. "Legal Framework Order Amending Constitutional Provisions Issued", August 21, 2002. http://www.pak.gov.pk/public/Legal-Framework-Order.htm

6. Owen Bennett-Jones, "Musharraf's Kind of Election", BBC, July 12, 2002. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2125706.stm)

7. Barnaby Mason, "International Silence on Pakistan", BBC, August 22, 2002. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2209644.stm)

8. "Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi", Jamat-E-Islami, http://www.jamaat.org/overview/founder.html



Picture Reference:

1. http://www.jamaat.org/overview/founder.html

The Clash of Fundamentalisms – Part Four
By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
September 21, 2002


On September 1st, 2002, thirty six year old Mr. Maqsud Ahmad, a devoted Ahamadiya believer in Faisalabad, Pakistan was murdered in front of his family while his family were preparing breakfast. What was Mr. Maqsud's offence? According to the Ahmadiya Community, "Faisalabad has been simmering with anti-Ahmadiyya religious activity for long. Despite repeated appeals and protests by Ahmadis, the district administration have always acted softly towards bearded miscreants - occasionally even supported them." Let's look at some historical facts available.



Who are these Ahmadiya believers?

"The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam is a religious organization, international in its scope, with branches in over 174 countries in Africa, North America, South America, Asia, Australasia, and Europe. At present, its total membership exceeds 170 million worldwide. Ahmadiyya Movement was established in 1889 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) in a small and remote village, Qadian, in the Punjab, India. He claimed to be the expected reformer of the latter days, the Awaited One of the world community of religions (The Mahdi and Messiah). " [9] Mirza Ghulam claimed that he too had experience a divine revelation as Prophet Muhammad had.

For the orthodox Muslim leaders and preachers, this claim by Mirza Ghulam was seen as blasphemous since the Koran explicitly stated that Muhammad was the last Prophet. Except Mirza Ghulam's new revelation claim, "the Ahmadiya believed in exactly the same things as any other Muslim, with regional variations". [1]

Orthodox Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami members were agitating the common Muslims with their burning speeches in the Mosques and news paper articles that "in a Muslim state the Ahmadiya be declared a religious minority outside Islam, accorded the same rights as Christians or Hindus, but banned from appearing or recruiting as Muslims". [1] Even the Oxford-educated chief minister of the Punjab, Mumtaz Daultana was part of this anti-Ahmadiya agitation, mostly for political ambition. However, the agitation began to take the nasty turn, when Pakistan's Ahmadiya foreign minister Zafarullah Khan publicly acknowledged his Ahmadiya affiliation by addressing an Ahmadi conference in Karachi. [1]

Initially Maududi did not wish to get into this nasty debate relating Ahmadiya questions, however, as anti-Ahmadiya agitation got its momentum, he did not wish to be outmaneuvered on this issue. He published a 'virulent text' entitled as "The Ahmadiya Problem". Before his inflammatory book was banned in Pakistan, it was sold 57,000 copies. The message in his book "excited orthodox passions, making Maududi a central figure in what followed". [1]

Here are a few excerpts from Maududi's book:

Nowadays, experience has proven the great wisdom and beautiful benefits of this good favor from Allah. The belief that Mohammad was the last prophet united all monotheists in following only one prophet, and thus endowed them with what strengthened and ensured their unity and interactions. The renewal of a doctrine by many prophets separate the nation into many communities. If we expel Qadiyanis, none will dare to rise among us and pretend a new message to destroy our unity and solidarity. But if we overlook Qadiyanism, we will help and encourage many pretenders to rise and feign, and thus we participate in harming Muslim solidarity. And if we neglect this danger, our example will be followed by our sons, and thus the destruction will not stop and our society will face a new kind of danger everyday; dangers which split the Muslim nation.

This is our true argument on which we base our demands of making Qadiyanis a minority which has the rights of any non-Muslims minority. In fact, the argument that reaches home is with us and no other reasonable argument can be brought against our demand. [10]


In 1953, carefully orchestrated riot broke out in Punjab on this burning issue of Ahmadiya. Pakistani central government imposed martial law and curfew in Lahore. [1] "Soldiers opened fire on bearded mobs." The riots were put down by the Pakistani soldiers within two days. Maududi and his Jamaat-e-Islami party member Kausar Niazi were arrested. They were charged with treason. 'Both were found guilty and sentenced to death, later commuted to some years in prison. Maududi's offence was his book. Kausar Niazi had indulged in violent and obscene rhetoric at a public rally, and stoked the crowd to such a fury that a mob surrounded and lynched an on-duty policeman. For his role in encouraging the riots to further his factional interests in the Muslim League, Chief Minister Mumtaz Daultana was forced to resign, his political career effectively at an end.' [1]


A Modern and Secular Report

Pakistani government appointed Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice M.R. Kayani to investigate the 'causes of the anti-Ahmadi disturbance'. [1] Tariq Ali opines that Justice Munir and Kayani produced the only modernist text in Pakistan's history and he insists that instead of lying buried in the archives, it should be part of the university curriculum, or at least made available to the library.

In this investigative report, Justice Munir and Kayani referred to the ulama's call for Pakistan to be run as an official 'Islami State', and to their demands against Ahmadis. Here is a portion of the report:

The question, therefore, whether a person is or is not a Muslim will be of fundamental importance, and it was for this reason that we asked most of the leading ulama to give their definition of a Muslim, the point being that if the ulama of the various sects believed the Ahmadis to be kafirs [unbelievers], they must have been quite clear in their minds not only about the grounds of such belief but also about the definition of a Muslim because the claim that a certain person or community is not within the pale of Islam implies on the part of the claimant an exact conception of what a Muslim is. The result of this part of the inquiry, however, has been anything but satisfactory, and if considerable confusion exists in the minds of our ulama on such a simple matter, one can easily imagine what the differences on more complicated matters will be.....Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim but kafirs according to the definition of everyone else.

The ulama in those days used to belief (and many claims that they still do) that in an Islamic state, a Muslim who becomes a kafir is subject to the death penalty. Justice Munir and Kayani's report refers to this strongly held view of these Islamic clerics:

According to this doctrine, Chaudhri Zafarullah Khan, if he has not inherited his present religious beliefs but has voluntarily elected to be an Ahmadi, must be put to death. And the same fate should befall Deobandis and Wahabis, including Maulana Muhammad Shafi Deobandi, Member, Board of Talimat-i-Islami attached to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, and Maulana Daud Ghaznavi, if Maulana Abul Hasanat Sayyad Muhammad Qadri or Mirza Raza Ahmad Khan Barelvi, or any one of the numerous ulama who are shown perched on every leaf of a beautiful tree in the fatwa, Ex. D.E. 14, were the head of such Islamic State. And if Maulana Muhammad Shafi Deobandi were the head of the State, he would exclude those who have pronounced Deobandis as kafirs from the pale of Islam and inflict on them the death penalty if they come within the definition of murtadd, namely, if they have changed and not inherited their religious views.

The genuineness of the fatwa, Ex. D.E. 13, by the Deobandis which says that Asna Ashari Shias are kafirs and murtadds, was questioned in the course of inquiry, but Maulana Muhammad Shafi made an inquiry on the subject from Deoband, and received from the records of the institution the copy of a fatwa signed by all the teachers of the Darul Uloom, including Maulana Muhammad Shafi himself which is to the effect that those who do not believe in the sahabiyyat of Hazrat Siddiq Akbar and who are qazif of Hazrat Aisha Siddiqa and have been guilty of thrif of Quran are kafirs. This opinion is also supported by Mr Ibrahim Ali Chishti who has studied and knows his subject. He thinks that Shias are kafirs because they believe that Hazrat Ali shared the prophethood with our Holy Prohet. He refused to answer the question whether a person who being a Sunni changes his view and agrees with the Shia view would be guilty of irtidad so as to deserve the death penalty. According to the Shias all Sunnis are kafirs, and Ahl-i-Quran, namely, person who consider hadith to be unreliable and therefore not binding, are unanimously kafirs, and so are all independent thinkers. The net result of all this is that neither Shias nor Sunnis nor Deobandis nor Ahl-i-Hadith nor Barelvis are Muslims and any change from one view to the other must be accompanied in an Islamic State with the penalty of death if the Government of the State is in the hands of the party which considers the other party to be kafirs. And it does not require much imagination to judge of the consequences of this doctrine when it is remembered that no two ulama have agreed before us as to the definition of a Muslim.

If the constituents of each of the definitions given by the ulama are given effect to, and subjected to the rule of 'combination and permutation' and the form of charge in the Inquisition's sentence on Galileo is adopted mutatis mutandis as a model, the grounds on which a person may be indicted for apostasy will be too numerous to count.

Tariq Ali opines that Justice Munir and Kayani's report was a bold defense of modernity and secularism. The report argued that religious intervention was unwarranted, "its recourse to violence had created a political crisis and it could only impede the development of the new state. There it should be excluded from Pakistan's politics and institutions. A separation between religion and the state was crucial if the country was to move forward." What did Jamat-e-Islami had to say on this report? "Maududi's leading lietenant, Mian Tufail, retorted: 'Our religion is our politics, our politics is our religion'". [1]


[To Be Continued in Part Five]

Part One Location: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MuktoChinta/message/3022

Part Two Location: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MuktoChinta/message/3183

Part Three Location: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MuktoChinta/message/3389



References:
1. Tariq Ali, "The Clash of Fundamentalisms – Crusades, Jihads and Modernity", Verso, London, New York, 2002.

2. http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=574&ncid=721&e=3&u=/nm/20020822/wl_nm/pakistan_constitution_dc_5

3. "Another Leap in the Dark" Dawn, August 23, 2002, http://www.dawn.com/2002/08/23/ed.htm#1

4. Munir Ahmad, "Musharraf Broadens his Powers and Privileges", The Globe and Mail, August 22, 2002. http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/PEstory/TGAM/20020822/UPAKK3E/International/international/international_temp/1/1/22/

5. "Legal Framework Order Amending Constitutional Provisions Issued", August 21, 2002. http://www.pak.gov.pk/public/Legal-Framework-Order.htm

6. Owen Bennett-Jones, "Musharraf's Kind of Election", BBC, July 12, 2002. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2125706.stm)

7. Barnaby Mason, "International Silence on Pakistan", BBC, August 22, 2002. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2209644.stm)

8. "Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi", Jamat-E-Islami, http://www.jamaat.org/overview/founder.html

9. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, http://www.alislam.org/

10. Maulana Syed Abu'l Ala Maududi, "The Problem of Qadianism". http://www.irshad.org/idara/qadiani/writings/moududpq.htm



Picture Reference:

http://www.thememaker.com/themes/humanity.jpg

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Succumbing to the Religious Extremists




Dear Readers,

Banning the books and publications of Ahmadiyya in Bangladesh is utterly deplorable. It is the crude desecration of human rights of a minority sect for the appeasement of religious zealots.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is still widely perceived as the party of the mainstream Bangladeshis. By nodding to the vicious demands of Islami Oikko Joat, Hifazate Khatme Nabuwat Andolon, and goons and thugs who were behind the attacks on peaceful Ahmadiyya believers and on their mosques in the recent past, the government has shown its weakness. Its capitulation to the religious crooks and fundamentalists are not conducive for the betterment of the nation.

Bangladesh is a peaceful nation where millions of people from various religious backgrounds have lived side by side for centuries, peacefully. The recent shocking events, including the apparent threat imposed by the religious bigots, daring the government of Bangladesh to take unthinkable step in banning Ahmadiyya books points to a deeper trouble underneath.

Nonetheless, the Daily Star editorial rightfully observes: “The government should not be in the business of banning any religious books or any religious sect. The government, having a majority in parliament, had no reason to succumb to the pressure. This acquiescence might open floodgates of religious fanaticism. Today it is the Ahmadiyyas, and tomorrow, who knows, it may be another sect or a religious minority that will be targeted by the fanatic elements.”

And their demands will grow. Their pressure will increase on the government for other deep wishes of the Bangladeshi Talibans. Unless the government of Bangladesh put a check on this growing disturbingly bigotry filled phenomenon, “the smaller religious sects or communities will get wrong signals and so will the international community. Neither proposition is in keeping with the spirit of our constitution that guarantees full religious freedom to all citizens. Similarly, Islam is a religion of tolerance that has no place for coercion and intimidation. Finally, we cannot let any sect develop a persecution psychosis and still talk of democracy and liberalism.”

It is the extremists who are using hatred filled misinformation regarding the Ahmadiyya in garnering more political muscles on the BNP lead government. “Using the deep regard for religion among peace loving Muslims, this group is fanning hatred by misinforming the public. Regrettably, instead of clearing the air and putting the extremists in their place, the government has emboldened them by its ill considered action.”

The timely sensible act would be reversing this outrageous decision immediately and cracking down on the religious fanatics who are stirring hatred, pursuing their own ulterior political agenda, trampling peaceful harmony of Bangladesh.

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
January 10, 2004


Capitulation to Extremists

Clear case of using religion for political purpose


The government decision to ban Ahmadiyya books and publications has, for understandable reasons, drawn the attention of the people not ready to be carried away by the recent wave of fanatic upsurge. The ban is a meek capitulation to the religious extremists.

The government should not be in the business of banning any religious books or any religious sect. The government, having a majority in parliament, had no reason to succumb to the pressure. This acquiescence might open floodgates of religious fanaticism. Today it is the Ahmadiyyas, and tomorrow, who knows, it may be another sect or a religious minority that will be targeted by the fanatic elements.

The dangers associated with allowing the bigots to have too much leeway are self-evident. The smaller religious sects or communities will get wrong signals and so will the international community. Neither proposition is in keeping with the spirit of our constitution which guarantees full religious freedom to all citizens. Similarly, Islam is a religion of tolerance which has no place for coercion and intimidation. Finally, we cannot let any sect develop a persecution psychosis and still talk of democracy and liberalism.

Even if it is assumed that the Ahmadiyya publications contained certain things which could hurt others, the best approach to the problem was to engage them in a discussion and resolve it. What really defies comprehension is why the problem is being raised now. Ahmadiyyas have been living in peace -- barring the occasional troubles fomented by the zealots -- with other citizens for decades. There were pious and tolerant people who did not find it difficult to accept their presence. Why have a group of fanatics now set themselves the task of wiping out a small sect ?

The Ahmadiyya issue has clearly been blown out of proportions. The extremist outburst is repugnant to all democratic sensibilities; violative of citizens' constitutional rights; and tantamount to projecting ourselves as having little concern for smaller sects and religious minorities. In our view a certain extremist group is using religion for its political end. Using the deep regard for religion among peace loving Muslims, this group is fanning hatred by misinforming the public. Regrettably, instead of clearing the air and putting the extremists in their place, the government has emboldened them by its ill considered action.

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/2004/01/11/d40111020124.htm

The Lives of Palestinians



By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
January 10, 2004

Does the life of a Palestinian civilian have any values? Seldom there is any days that the occupied Palestinian area does not see Israeli army incursions, missile attacks, and killings of unarmed man, woman and children in the hands of Israeli Defense Force. These killings have become routine matter, not much uproar they raise anymore in the Western media; no condemnation from the high pulpit ever reaches to the aggrieved and the mourners.

“It seems that life is cheap in the occupied territories. Different value attached to life depends on whether the victim happens to be Israeli, international or Palestinian.” [1]

In the recent days there were more than a dozen Palestinians died from endless IDF incursions, many homes were destroyed, scores of families had become instant homeless. And these are being done on the convenient pretext of pursuing “terror” suspect. The world is forced to believe that Israeli demolition, their daily disregards of Palestinian basic human rights under the clanking bulldozer and roaring tanks and flying jets in the sky, the lifeless corpses of new Palestinian dead accumulating in the cold morgue waiting to be delivered to the bereaved family, are not associated with any “terror”.

Most of these killings occurred these past few days were in Nablus, which is northern part of West Bank. Here is a horrific description of these killings from Egypt’s Al Ahram weekly:

“On 1 January, Israeli troops shot and killed 16- year-old Mohamed Jaber Said at the El-Ein refugee camp outside Nablus. Another boy, aged 13, was also badly wounded in the incident. The Israeli army claimed the two boys were shot "in clashes". Eyewitnesses say the confrontation took place between heavily armed Israeli soldiers and a few stone-throwing Palestinian children.

The killing continued on 3 January when the IDF killed five Palestinians, including two children. Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers in armored personnel carriers opened fire on school children, killing three. The victims included Amjad Bilal Al- Masri, 14, who was shot in the chest. Shortly afterwards, Israeli snipers situated on a nearby rooftop killed 17-year-old Amir Arafat and 25-year-old Rawhi Shuman.

A few hours later, during the funeral for the three victims, Israeli troops fired at mourners, killing Mohamed Al-Masri, a relative of one of the victims. Eyewitnesses said IDF troops opened fire without any provocation from a distance of 200 meters.

On 5 January, IDF soldiers killed 16-year-old Tajuddin Seif and seriously wounded 14-year-old Imad Fadda.” [2]

Israeli Defense Force does have men with integrity, many of them have refused to serve in the occupied land, terming the Israeli continuing occupation of Palestinian land immoral, causing “the loss of IDF’s human character and the corruption of the entire Israeli society.” [3] The concern for the brutal repression of Palestinians are growing among the IDF soldiers, as it is widely shared by the large faction of Israeli civilians, even in the face of Sharon’s impish humbug.

Ariel Sharon’s radical policy embracing government is building their coveted fences, barbed wire and walls, to segregate the “inferiors” from the cherished ones. Encroachment of Palestinian lands for the same pretext of preventing “terror” have become the powerful tool for Sharon’s tunnel vision of a broader Israel, where the Palestinians would be increasingly squished into ghettos and slums. No hope and no future for the Palestinians. They are condemned to be doomed from Sharon’s biblical proportion of hypocrisy.

Killings of Israeli civilians in brutal suicide bombings must be condemned wholeheartedly. That is immoral and must be said so. But shouldn’t the same humane rule apply for the “terror” adventures and incursions by the IDF deep in the Palestinian land?

Jocelyn Hurndall who lost her son few months ago in the occupied Palestine correctly observes, “When will those responsible accept that it is illegal to collectively and obsessively punish a whole community? Has the hard-nosed Sharon government made connections between the horror of the Holocaust and the current brutal incursions? Countless insightful Israelis, Palestinians and people the world over have done so. Is it surprising that Israel was voted the most dangerous threat to world peace in a recent European Union poll?” [1]

It is not surprising. What is surprising is the continual willful negligence by the Western media and also especially by the current Bush administration for its inability, and quite frankly, its open arm policy for their “man of peace” Mr. Sharon, while keeping eyes and ears closed toward the boundless daily sufferings of millions of Palestinians in the occupied land.

The life of Palestinian children, women, and men are downgraded to the similar level of those brutally murdered Holocaust Jewish victims in the hands of Nazis and fascists years and years ago. Painful descriptions of those innocent Jewish victims’ memories are portrayed in numerous praiseworthy movies, books and articles. And conveniently setting aside the lessons from history, Ariel Sharon leaded the conservative Likud Party and its radical hoodlums perspiring to exterminating or evicting the entire Palestinian population to the neighboring nations, musings among his comrades in the cozy atmosphere of Israeli parliament.

The lives of helpless, Jewish or Muslims, Israelis or Palestinians, in the hands of Nazis or the “man of peace” Mr. Ariel Sharon, are like worthless pebbles in the worthless sand. But the sands and pebbles are the building blocks of stable roofs and structures of so many homes and bridges and roads. Honoring the life and rights of Palestinians and Israelis, rich or poor, is surely the root of lasting peace in the Middle East.


References

1. Jocelyn Hurndall, “What Price a Life”, The Guardian, January 10, 2004.

2. Khaled Amayreh, “Sharon’s Deadly Plan”, Al-Ahram Weekly, 9-14 January 2004.

3. “Courage to Refuse – Combatant’s Letter”


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Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: sohelkarim@yahoo.com.


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