Category Archives: Muslims

Imagine If You Can: a Bloody Middle East Science Day…….

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Today is Science March Day. All over the world people are meeting in solidarity with science. You’d think there is no need for a “day of solidarity” with science now. But we’ve come a long way backward, back to Ante Ante-Bellum, Ante-Galileo, Ante-Newton’s Laws, Ante Kennedy’s pledge to go to the Moon.

Science is being celebrated everywhere in the world, almost. Except for the Middle East. In some Arab capitals, and possibly in Turkey, imagine if you can that a bunch of enthusiastic young men and women gathered in city squares. They gathered for Science Day, not to push for the Sharia implementation, and not to denounce Wahhabism, and not to call for elections and free speech and an end to corruption. That would have been too much. They gathered just to celebrate Science Day, just imagine that if you can.

That is what could have happened from Riyadh to Cairo to Istanbul. That is what may have happened, had the young people decided to follow the example of their colleagues in Europe, Asia, and America. Imagine that if you can.

The dictators and the absolute tribal kings and the robber princes did not understand. To them a crowd is a crowd: a threat to their golden goose. The soldiers and the security goons and the foreign mercenaries, the men who usually crash down doors at dawn, acted on orders. In broad daylight. On this Science Day, Science watered the city squares with blood. Imagine that if you can, because you should.

Why is it that only Arabs, and some Muslims, risk shedding their blood if they publicly gather to celebrate Science?

Allies, indeed……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

American Illusions: From ‘No More War’ to ‘One More Muslim War’…….

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“One Two Three Four
We Don’t Want Your F–king War…”

I remember this old refrain fondly now. I used to hear it almost on a daily basis during my undergraduate university days. It is about time to dust it up and hear it again.

That replaced what it should have been:
“One, two, three, four
Tell me that you love me more”

This time it is not just the political classes, not just Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex that own the politicians, it is also the corporate media that is daily pushing one Muslim war or another. Much of it is also funded by foreign lobbyists, their loyal think-tanks, and other interests.

The old mantra “No More War” has been co-opted. During the George Bush (fils) and Obama eras, the United States gradually got engaged in several Middle East civil and uncivil wars. September 11, which had its genesis in the old Afghan War against the Soviets: American weapons and Saudi money and Wahhabi ideology created Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Opened the door to the second (or third) Afghanistan War that is still going on, sixteen years later. Then the Iraq war came with much fanfare (and eventually much embarrassment).

Soon other wars snuck in by stealth: Islamic State, Somalia, Libya, African Sahel countries, Pakistan, Yemen, etc. The United States is now involved in wars in some 10 Muslim or Muslim-majority countries. And the American political classes and the hungry media seem eager for more war. They castigated Obama for not getting into just one more war in Syria, and now they are glorifying Trump for putting one foot into a potentially disastrous Syrian war.
The sights were set on Syria early on, not for the benefit of the Syrian people, but for strategic regional reasons. Before the Arab Uprisings of 2011. For a while the sights were set on Iran, a truly foolish idea. Lebanon is not far from their thoughts, not with Netanyahu, the Guru of the American right and assorted chickenhawks, egging them on. On the other hand, the Jihadis get some mileage by talking about the “new crusades”.

Nowadays, it is always “One More Muslim War”: one more Muslim war to end all Muslim wars. That old illusion of the 20th century. Except that it doesn’t end all Muslim wars, just sets the stage for the next one…….

I really long for “No More War“. I find myself longingly humming the old refrain: One Two Three Four…. and I wish I could end it differently, with the clean version, with no four-letter word. Fat chance……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

New Trendy Bigotry: Rent a Jew, Rent a Muslim, Rent a Bigot (or Elect One)………

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“Do Jews get a discount when they buy a car? Do they own McDonald’s? Do Jews control the media and international banking? Do any of them live here anymore? These are among the questions German school children ask Jews who volunteer in a new outreach program with the provocative name, “Rent A Jew.” The Jews in question are not actually “rented” since they volunteer their time. But they do present themselves as living exhibits of something young Germans hear about constantly, thanks to their curricula on Germany and the Holocaust but rarely see: living, talking, walking Jews as they live their lives today. The program – launched in 2015 by the Munich-based Janusz Korczak Academy in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel – is beginning to catch on. The Jewish Agency provides funding for the program, which mixes education with humor. “Rent a Jew,” the group’s tagline urges. “You will never forget your first.”

What next? Rent-a-Muslim for the Trump and Bannon and Gaffney kids to learn from?
Some say Muslims may be the “new” Jews in Europe and the United States. The next target for frustrated underemployed Christians and Evangelicals who can’t wait for “The Day” when all Jews are expected to convert to their peculiar old sect started by Jesus of Nazareth.

I don’t believe it, this thing about Rent-a-Muslim. It takes a long history, many centuries of suspicion, discrimination, abuse, and massacres to get to where the Jews are. And requires us to have a lot of talent that makes others realize their own shortcomings, which we don’t have yet. Besides, Muslims are nowhere near being group targets of life-and-death situations: there just are too many of us, and we are not one race or one nation. We come from all over.
Even the New Neo-Republican Party can’t build that kind of a wall. I believe that in this Congress and at the New White House they are realizing that and focusing on their real long-term enemy: a well-educated and healthy American people.

Besides, Muslims don’t make good scapegoats. We make better goats than scapegoats, given how our native countries are managed.

Maybe Rent-a-Bigot can become a viable business in some coastal states. A quaint conversation piece on one of the two coasts. Unless you elect a whole passel of them and let them loose on a country.


FYI: unlike the myth being encouraged in extreme right wing media, not many Muslims prefer slitting throats. Many prefer AK-15 (but that would be a Russian connection no?). One other thing is worrisome, tough: many of us like our food, especially our meat, Kosher (except we called it Halal after we copied it from the Jews about fifteen centuries ago).
More on this later, possibly, stay tuned…….

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Arab Leaders Blowing in the Wind: Torn Between Many Lovers…….

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The Arab regimes that care, mainly in the Gulf region, have failed to devise and implement a strategy against the expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East. Military attempts in Iraq and Syria (via insurgent Jihadi proxies) have failed. An extended and ferocious destructive bombing campaign with Western help seems to have failed against the fierce Yemenis. Attempts at forging various reliable foreign alliances, from Turkey to Africa, have failed. Now they think they have a chance at a reset with the Trump administration, but that is probably just another illusion.

A leading Saudi newspaper editor, Mr. Turki Al Dakhil who is close to some potentates, has asked Saudis to launch a campaign on Twitter and other social media praising Donald Trump’s criticism of Iran. In the process also exaggerating it. Many, including the huge official Saudi Electronic Army have been tweeting hashtags (most common hashtag has been #TrumpWarnsIranianTerrorism or something like it) supposedly egging Mr. Trump on, pushing him toward a confrontation with the Iranian regime.

Wahhabi extremists, Salafis, ISIS fans, Al Qaeda fans and other assorted fans of Jihadi cutthroats are all suddenly tweeting in praise of the new President of the United States.

Remember when President Obama complained to the Atlantic Magazine last year that some Arab oligarchs in the Persian Gulf were trying to get the USA to join their regional sectarian conflicts? They are now trying to egg Trump on to fight their sectarian war in the Gulf region and possibly beyond. Only a few weeks ago they were blasting Trump as an Islamophobic racist, now they are clinging to him as a potential war ally. The last great (very) white hope.

Of course this is not new. After the fall of Baghdad in 2003 some Arab autocrats tried with George W Bush to provoke yet a new Gulf war. But he turned out smarter than that, less cooperative. Obama was even more skeptical of the Arab oligarchs, especially after the uprisings of 2010/2011 started. So, the oligarchs soured on Obama and hitched their wagons to Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel. As they waited for their old Clintonista friends to retake the White House.

Netanyahu talked tough against the mullahs, but he would not go to a risky war for the sake of Wahhabi kings and princes who don’t even recognize his country. You see, I suspect that much of Netanyahu’s bluster about the Iranian regime was to divert attention from the settlements in the West Bank (he has been warning since 1995 that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within six months). Some Iranian leaders helped him along with their absurd and bigoted comments about the Holocaust and their silly “Death To” slogans. The Iranian hardliners are good at milking these hostile slogans to their advantage in the Middle East, even if they harm their country’s interests in the halls of power in the West.

Enter Donald Trump and his frustrated hawkish former generals and cultural religious racial warriors.

So that is where it stands now. The Arab oligarchs are suddenly admirers of the American leader they called a clown only a few weeks ago. They think they have a chance against Iranian expansion with Trump, given that the president is surrounded by hawks and by cabinet members and advisers who have been close to the Iranian Mujahideen-Khalq opposition group.

Trump promised to avoid foreign wars and focus on America, but he is now making ominous noises. Will he go to war for his new autocratic admirers? Hopefully not: the Middle East has had enough of foreign meddling and Western wars.
Just help defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda, Mr. Trump, then get the hell out. You don’t belong in the Middle East permanently. The Iranians and the Arabs (and Kurds and Jews and others) belong there, and they have for thousands of years.

Cheers

M. H. Ghuloum

Post-Mosul Future of MENA Wars: Our Week of Escalated Bombings in Islamistan….

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Recent events of this past week point to the possible future of political developments in the Middle East and North Africa:

  • In Turkey, we saw Yet another huge terrorist bombing in the largest historic city of the country. More fallout from Mr. Erdogan’s Syrian and Iraqi adventures. Another terrorist bombing in Istanbul: at least 39 dead, many more wounded.
  • In Egypt, the terror campaign has dramatically escalated, and well beyond the Sinai Peninsula. First a group of security officers were bombed yesterday. Then today, Sunday, a new first: the largest Church of the country, the Orthodox Coptic headquarters of their Pope was bombed, killing more than 25, wounding more. A serious and dangerous escalation in a country on the brink of confessional and sectarian breakdown. Just imagine a Syria or an Iraq with three times the population.
  • In Yemen, a terrorist bombing attack in Aden reportedly killed at least 50. Reportedly the “victims” mostly soldiers and security of the deposed Hadi regime.
  • In Syria and Iraq the killing just goes on. Daily bombings of civilian targets in Iraqi towns continue. Mostly Shi’a targets, but not exclusively so (twin bombings in mostly-Sunni Fallujah today). Thus feeding the Salafist Wahhabi goal of fanning sectarian flames.

Further away from the MENA region: More killings in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Pakistan.

This seems like a harbinger of an escalation of acts of terrorism well beyond Iraq and Syria and Sinai. Now almost any Muslim country is a target. Possibly an indication of a strategic shift among Jihadis from holding territory back to more spectacular violent acts of terrorism. A sign of a post-Mosul and post-Raqqa strategy of the Jihadis?
Very likly….
Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum

 

Beards and Zeitgeist: Leftist Beards, Zayed Beards, Islamist Fuzz, Lice and Orangutan……….

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It seems that the fate of the facial hair we call the “beard” is often tied to the political atmosphere of the period. Part of the Zeitgeist.
Decades ago, a young man with a beard in the Americas or in Europe was considered a radical, a suspected follower or admirer of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, (or even Dobie Gillis and Bob Denver). In fascist-ruled places like Chile, Argentina, and Greece they were thrown into prison or just disappeared on suspicion of radicalism or impiety or non-conformity. In some West European airports, bearded youth were often questioned more carefully. That was then, long before the world ever heard of Radical Islam.
At the same time, in Saudi Arabia any man who was ambitious grew a goatee beard (like the one Bob Denver and Dobie Gillis sported). From the king on down, they all flaunted the goatee (some Arabs called it saksooka). But that beard was not a radical political statement: just a show of solidarity with the eternal Saudi conformity rules.

FYI: I suspect that “goatee” drives from “goat“, which means these guys admired something about their goats. Maybe just the looks.

Then two events happened in 1979 that altered the history and shape of the beard for a generation to come:
First: the Afghan war erupted, with the Western secular governments and Arab Wahhabis aligned with the reactionary Afghan tribes against the God-less Communists. That war created a whole new generation of Islamic guerrillas. Al Qaeda started in Afghanistan, with Saudi money and Arab volunteers and American (Reagan) weapons. We can also say that it was the genesis of the Taliban and ISIS and Al Nusra and other cutthroat groups. The first Afghan war gave us the shaggy unruly lice-infested Wahhabi beard so loved by our Persian Gulf Salafists. One more complication: many Salafi elders, to show that they are among the top elite, tend to die their beards, often a bright red (Orangutan) color, as rusty as their brains. Maybe it is to appeal to their wives. A few let them let it go gray.
Second: the Iranian Revolution succeeded in February 1979. Mullahs with shaggy beards and heir followers with trimmed beards took over in Tehran, replacing the clean shaven men of the Shah, King of Kings, Light of the Aryans, etc, etc. An Iranian form of conformity has spread since then: all men of importance in the regime sport a short beard. Not the shaggy lice-inviting type the Salafis have, but a more trimmed grizzly beard. Long enough to be noticeable but too short to invite the lice or particles of food.

Other Muslim countries have their own variation of these two extremes of beards. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) many influential officials now sport the trimmed neat Zayed-Brothers beard. So named after the seven or dozen (or more) brothers who own Abu Dhabi and rule the UAE. In Egypt a beard is okay if it is the shaggy lice-inviting type, for it indicates the man is an ordinary Salafist who can be bought and not a Muslim Brother. In Syria, well, no matter what kind of beard you have in Syria, it can get you killed, or worse, by any group of armed Jihadis, liberators, invited foreign guests, un-invited foreign guests, cutthroats, or just plain regime forces. You can also get bombed by Syrians, Russians, Americans, British, or Israelis.
Who was it who said: “Hands Off Syria“?

So, in any struggle in our Middle East region today, even in my native Gulf region, you need to scrutinize the beard carefully. You also need to understand the nuances and differences between the various kinds of beards and if they are dyed and what color. Your career, fortune, and life could depend on it.

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Do They Really Hate “US”? Rudyard Kipling and Misplaced American Phobia……..

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Go send your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need

To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child

Take up the White Man’s burden
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror      Rudyard Kipling (on America)

CNN network has been pushing a documentary show with a totally silly but sensational attention-grabbing title Why Do They Hate Us. Complete with a couple of the usual well-worn “Islamic” or “terror” experts from the Indian Sub-Continent.

I saw only parts of the show (or program). It gives the impression that Americans are agonizing over Islamic terrorism, which is real, and over why they are not loved over there. I got some news for all Americans: it is true that many of the Salafi Wahhabi Muslims hate Americans (and Europeans as well); but not nearly as much as they hate other Muslims of different sects.

Almost on any single day, the Muslim victims (Shi’a and Sunni) of terror bombings in Baghdad exceed the total the number of Americans killed by “terrorism” since after September 11; that is fifteen years of American agony and Islamic phobia. The same goes for most European countries. Last June, a Saudi ISIS agent blew himself up inside a crowded Muslim Shi’a mosque in Kuwait City. The total dead were 27, plus hundreds wounded and crippled. That is probably more than the number of Americans killed by Muslim terrorists in the USA since September 11, 2001.

If you could read Arabic, a beautiful one of the most expressive of languages, you’d know that most of the vitriol and hatred is usually directed at Shi’a Muslims, and maybe Alawites and other Muslim minorities. Not at Americans. Most of the exhortation in Arabic Wahhabi social media is to kill Shi’as or the Magi (Persians). Or Arabs of another faith. Most of the complaints about America are mainly that this country is helping “the enemy” or the “other” with bombing terrorist hideouts.

It is true that many in “allied” countries, especially Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and surprisingly many in Egypt, either hate or dislike some vague identity called “America”. But that is the product of Wahhabi ideology, a once-small Islamic sect that has spread from Central Saudi Arabia and across Asia, Africa, and Europe. Fed with oil money and Salafi clerics from the Arab world and South Asia.

Across the Arab and Muslim worlds there is a kind of love-hate attitude toward America. A large part of the people wish to evolve civil societies where institutions rule rather than entitled dictators or clerics or a handful of tribal families. That is an American ideal, at least that was the American trajectory for a long time, although this has become debatable now.

And the fact is, many Arabs also seek (some even yearn) to be recognized by the West (America) as moving toward some local version of that ideal, be it real or illusory. I know, I know, some Arabs would complain that this is pandering to the “white man”.

But facts are what they are: facts.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Inshallah: a United States of Political Paranoia on Social Media?……..

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“An Iraqi student at UC Berkeley was removed from his Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Oakland earlier this month when a woman overheard him speaking in Arabic and reported him to a Southwest employee…..

UPDATED: Adds new @SouthwestAir claim eavesdropping passenger said she spoke Arabic – not yet clear that’s true.
The Intercept @theintercept
Iraqi refugee kicked off plane for speaking Arabic says Islamophobia boosts ISIS http://interc.pt/1SgOIQB by @RobertMackey

Wajahat Ali Verified account ‏@WajahatAli Apr 17
I explain “inshallah”after this #SouthwestAirlines fiasco where a Muslim kid was kicked off for speaking Arabic……….”

And so it went. But the fact can’t be denied: a young man, apparently an Arab, was kicked off a flight because a fellow passenger heard him speak what she thought was Arabic and “reported him” to the crew. The kind of stuff you’d read in old thrillers of Nazi Germany (no exaggeration here).

Inshallah: God Willing……… Every Muslim and Arab  says this when asked to do something or when asked if he/she will pass her exam or succeed or….. I suspect even some Arab Christians say it, since it means God Willing.

All this precedes the current poisonous Republican election campaign of 2016. Many times people, families, Arab and/or Muslim, some of them possibly Christian, have been reported removed from flights across the USA for suspicion of speaking Arabic (it could be Hindu for all the other passengers know). Since when is the suspicion of a language grounds for serious discrimination?

And does that make everyone who speaks Spanish an illegal? Or anyone who speaks Chinese (Mandarin…..) a spy? Or any unarmed black teenager who speaks and dresses a certain style a life-threatening thug that should be shot immediately?

This is not about one airline. I must add that I and my family here in the USA have had dealings with Southwest Airlines in the past three years with no problem. No signs of prejudice whatsoever. Nor have I experienced any form of prejudice in other venues or with other institutions and businesses. Even with my first name which is the most Muslim of names.

No, I am not blaming the social media for rapidly spreading, embellishing, or  magnifying the news. Not yet.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Wahhabi Coming of Age in Indonesia and Malaysia?……

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“FOR decades, South-East Asia has had two lucky bulwarks against militant Islam: the peaceful, tolerant form of their faith practised by most South-East Asian Muslims; and the relative incompetence of local jihadists. But South-East Asia’s tradition of syncretic Islam has been threatened by stricter forms imported from the Middle East, seen as more modern and correct. Violent jihadism seems to be following the same pattern, if the bloody violence in central Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, on January 14th, is anything to go by…………  In Malaysia, however, the government itself has thoroughly politicised Islam, leaving little room for dissent from its harshest rules. A study last year found more than 70% of Malaysia’s ethnic-Malay, Muslim, majority support hudud laws such as stoning for adultery…………….”

Southeast Asia has been largely under the radar as far as Wahhabism and Jihadi terrorism is concerned. Saudi madrassas (meaning schools but here ones that stress Wahhabi ideology, manned by Saudi clerics-teachers) have been around for a couple of decades, and a new crop of young terrorists are coming of age.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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The March of Violent Fundamentalism in Southeast Asia………..

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“Islam in Malaysia, and Southeast Asia, is taking a more conservative turn. The Muslim faith, brought here by Arab traders hundreds of years ago, has coexisted for generations with Malay customs such as shamanism, other forms of traditional medicine and the country’s sizable Buddhist, Christian and Hindu communities. But more recently, conservative Wahhabi doctrines, often spread by Saudi-financed imams, are redefining the way Islam is practiced and, for some, eroding the tolerance for which the country has been known………. Politicians, meanwhile, are now competing with each other to show off their Islamist credentials. The opposition Pan-Islamic Party strict adherence to Shariah has helped build its support in rural areas. And a government investment fund—under the control of the Muslim-oriented ruling party…………”

In the West they/you talk of Islam and Muslims as if they/we are a monolithic thing. They/we are not. When they say Muslim and terrorism in the same sentence in the West they mean Wahhabi, a small but expanding puritan sect of Sunni Islam. These are the ones engaged in worldwide terrorism as represented by Al Qaeda, AQAP, and ISIS (DAESH).

But there is an even more violent campaign of terror among Muslims, a sectarian war, most of it committed by Al Qaeda and ISIS and their ilk against all Shi’a Muslims and against many Sunni Muslims as well. It now spans the globe.

For years Malaysia has banned the practices of Shi’ism, even as the regime and its clerics moved deeper into the realm of Wahhabi intolerance. Local Shi’as have to practice their rites in secret, otherwise they risk persecution and prosecution. As the article says, the Saudi Wahhabis have been spreading their intolerant sect for decades, by sending Imams and establishing and financing schools. Stoning of women and public flogging is more common now in Malaysia and a few other places than it ever was in the past.

The same applies to Indonesia, which also persecutes its non-Wahhabi Islamic minorities. But that has been the trend through all Sunni Islam: a Wahhabi-ization of the mainstream. Egypt is now quasi-Wahhabi, and that includes Al-Azhar. The trend toward Wahhabi-ization and intolerance among Muslims and toward other muslims, in both Arab and South Asian countries, has accelerated in the past decade. It is now sweeping North and West Africa. Even among European Muslims it is very common, much more common than you think.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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