Tag Archives: History

Not Coming to Dinner: Mike Pence, a Woman, and the Devil……

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“After this week’s revelation that Vice President Mike Pence prefers not to dine alone with women who are not his wife—or at least didn’t as of a 2002 article in the Hill—many members of both the entire sex he has snubbed and the sex that is still afforded the privilege of sitting across from Pence at a Chili’s have expressed their dismay on social media. How could the second most powerful man in our government treat men and women so differently? But not everyone is outraged, or all that surprised, to find out Pence never eats in the solitary presence of a woman…….”

Mr. Pence has suddenly excited the “socially liberal” half of America with the recent disclosure that he will not dine alone with a woman that is not his wife. I don’t understand all the fuss: many men would do (or not do) the same. Certainly the same applies to many, perhaps most, women. Probably there is some hypocrisy there.

There is an old Middle East saying: “whenever a man and a woman get together alone, the Devil is always present with them.” A threesome. Or something to that effect, allowing for linguistic preferences and differences.

You‘ve guessed by now that the idea is that it means there is no innocent get-together of a man and a woman (unless she is a sister, mother, aunt, etc). Right?

One of my language/religion teachers first told us that saying with suspicious relish in Middle School (Junior High). I rarely believed my teachers in matters of religion, but on that one I did at that time, given my critical age and natural obsession.

It is amazing how Christian fundamentalism is so much like Islamic fundamentalism. And how much they both resemble Jewish fundamentalism (apparently if you take a mixed-gender bus often in certain parts of Jerusalem you’d know what I mean). I suspect that they both got much of their uptightness from ancient Jewish writings. People from arid lands tend to be more uptight than others, I should know. Unless we’re talking about Arizona or Palm Springs. But Indiana? The Hoosier State doesn’t resemble our faraway places that have created Muslim and Jewish jihadis in recent decades…….

Maybe that is not it, maybe Mr. Pence knows himself as well as, say, Mr. Trump knows himself. The latter explained it all to the world in Billy Bush’s tapes. Live and learn….

(Remember: everybody’s house is at least partly made of glass. At least the windows tend to be so…..)

P.S.:  I just remembered a novel I read many years ago, Rain by one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Somerset Maugham.

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

Historical Hints of the Magi: Was Zarathustra Sagte……….

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“Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago. For 1000 years Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world. It was the official religion of Persia (Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE. It is now one of the world’s smallest religions………… Zoroastrians believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He created the world. Zoroastrians are not fire-worshippers, as some Westerners wrongly believe. Zoroastrians believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God’s light or wisdom. Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the Prophet, Zoroaster. Zoroastrians traditionally pray several times a day. Zoroastrians worship communally in a Fire Temple or Agiary. The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called The Avesta…………….”

Arabs traditionally called them Majous (as in the Westernized Magi), probably after their priests, especially in the early years of the Muslim conquest. The conversion to Islam started under the second Caliph Omar I whose dedicated free-spirited desert fighters defeated the Sassanid (or Sasanian) dynasty surprisingly easily.
Because of their traditional symbolic fire rituals, Arabs and others have simplistically held throughout history that Zoroastrians were “fire worshippers”. That is equivalent to claiming Catholics worship statues or gargoyles (as in Notre Dame de Paris and other places).

During periods of regional political tension some Arabs, usually Salafi extremists on the Gulf, still call all Iranians, even the Muslims among them, Majous. They are a recognized but historically discouraged religion in theocratic Iran, and like Jews they hold one seat in Parliament. Nowadays especially the term is used quite frequently politically in Salafi ethnic propaganda campaigns and in social media, sometimes referring also to Shi’as, including many Arab Shi’as who don’t even speak Persian. Overlooking the fact that pre-Islamic Peninsula Arabs were mostly free pagans who worshiped chosen idols, and that ancient Egyptians worshiped their incestuous kings (Pharaohs) who usually married their own sisters.

Some aspects of their ancient religion are intriguing:
It is monotheistic (one supreme God-creator; one symbolic evil) – they worship several times a day – they have a book of Holy Scriptures (Avesta) – their God conveyed the truth to an ethnic Prophet (Zoroaster or Zarathustra), who was Persian rather than the usual Semite (Jewish or Arab)……..
Hint, hint, hint…………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Wahhabi War on History Continues: Now the Grave of the Prophet……..

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“A fatwa from a Qatari-owned online portal has been widely circulated by Egyptian press this week after it called for the destruction of pharanoic(sic) monuments on the grounds that they are contrary to Islam. The religious edict, issued by Islam Web, was picked up by several independent Egyptian news outlets…….But Egyptian newspapers carrying the story failed to notice the fatwa was first issued in December 2012…………..”

Saudi Alarabiya network is relishing this item about a Qatari fatwa against (Egyptian) monuments (the fatwa goes back to 2012 but Cairo’s subservient press has revived it recently). This indicates that the famous Saudi-Qatari dispute, the Wahhabi civil war, is on again. 
Speaking of destroying monuments, it seems to be a typical Wahhabi/Salafi thing to do. Saudi Arabia has been systematically destroying Islamic monuments over the years. In Mecca and Madinah homes of the Prophet and his early allies were razed and converted to luxury hotels, shopping malls, parking lots. On this case it is a mix of financial greed and Wahhabi doctrine. A few months ago they sent out a trial balloon about erasing, essentially desecrating, the grave of the Prophet Mohammed in Madinah.

The Taliban famously destroyed ancient Bamiyan monuments in Afghanistan. ISIS is destroying museum pieces in Mosul and monuments in other towns in Iraq (and Syria). In Syria Salafis among the ‘opposition’ destroyed shrines, threatened others, and destroyed Christian churches and old Crusader castles. They had threatened to destroy Shi’a shrines, which prompted Lebanese and Iraqi Shi’as to send armed militias to guard them. This led to their further involvement in the Syrian conflict.

Even in historically tolerant Egypt the Salafis have threatened to destroy ancient Islamic monuments, including some from the Fatimid era. Oddly they have left the Pharaonic monument alone, knowing it would be extremely unpopular to destroy major Western tourist attractions.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Comparative Torture in a Global Gulag: Islamic House of Glass, Western House of Glass……..

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Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday 

“The CIA paid torture teachers James Mitchell and Bruce Jesser more than $80 million. As they now live out their wildest dreams, their barbarity has cost the U.S. far more. Call them the houses that torture built: Two sprawling luxury homes purchased by the CIA-contracted psychologists at the center of the scathing Senate report. James Elmer Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen are not the first Americans to employ waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” against our enemies. But they are almost certainly the only ones to get rich doing it. They did so by employing what is widely dismissed as “voodoo science”…………..”

And I had almost come to think that we are among the last barbarians left. Some of us, a few actually, behead others, a few slit throats, some blow themselves up among others (mostly the victims are of us) and kill hundreds, some sentence dissidents to public flogging. All rather primitive methods of inflicting death and/or pain by both Jihadi terrorists and repressive regimes. But these are old tried and true methods dating back deep into history, to long before Rome, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Islam. The cruel but unimaginative methods of execution and inflicting pain of the Muslim and Arab worlds.
Then we have the more imaginative, or more scientific methods of inflicting pain and causing death. That is the more civilized method. From the Nazis of Germany/Austria to the French in Algeria to Abu Ghraib and to the alleged CIA and the private contractor Gulag that spreads across the globe. From rectal (or anal) feeding to waterboarding to lengthy sleep deprivation to psychological torture to gas chambers to forced starvation, all the way back to the burning of people alive and to the fires and knives of the Inquisition. The more civilized methods of the non-Muslim West. I should not mention the odd questionable prison injections that cause convicts to die slowly and unusually painfully in some God-fearing states. But I just did.
Houses of glass are everywhere………..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

U.S. Senate Love Affair with Muslims: Bombing Burma and a New Crusade…….

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I read that President Obama will visit Burma (a k a Myanmar) this week to reward the clinging military regime for offering a good spin in talking a democratic line.

I also read that Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, like the broken LP records of the U.S. Senate, are again calling for launching new invasions of and attacks on Muslim countries. Many senators of both parties agree with them, so long as the targets are Muslims: after all, how many Muslim voters do McCain and Graham have in their states? Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, African Sahel, possibly a couple others. And they are always seeking to set the ground for the Mother of All Middle East Wars, against Iran if they can swing it. Always on Muslim countries.
Nobody credible ever proposed attacking the Soviet Union even during the Hungarian or Czech or Cuban crises. Douglas MacArthur was fired for proposing a possible counterattack on China. Nobody seriously proposed attacking Nazi Germany until after Hitler, in a moment of monumental but characteristic stupidity, declared war on the USA. Nobody has even seriously proposed defanging Kim Jong Un, not even the perennial chickenhawk John Bolton. But they all want to bomb more Muslim countries.

So, perhaps, maybe, could be the Western powers need to take a breather, lay off their Muslim wars. Even if they think they are well-meaning and have lofty ideals, which most “natives” don’t think they do. Many Muslims, especially Arabs, quietly and loudly think of all this as a new Crusade aimed at getting Western hands on their petroleum or at helping maintain Israeli strategic supremacy. And not just Al Qaeda and other Wahhabis or Ayatollahs or the few remaining leftist types.

So, why not Burma, par exemple? Why is Burma never bombed, even as it has opened Nazi-style concentration camps for some of its ‘ethnic’ people like the Rohingya Muslims? Go for it, make history, just for once in this century to bomb some country that is neither Muslim nor Arab, for a change…………

(Someone suggested that maybe this should be AFTER they take care of the Caliphate of ISIS).

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Pop-History: Ibn Saud in Yemen…………..

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“Three armies of Wahabi Arabs, sent forth by Ibn Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, advanced last week through the mountain passes of Yemen Arabia, converging on Sana, the walled white mountain capital of Yemen One moved eastward, from the Red Sea port of Hodeida that Ibn Saud’s men captured last fortnight. One moved westward from the great central desert toward Sana. The third drove down from the border bandit land of Nejram on Sada key city to Sana. They came in armored cars, in camel corps and on horseback. And behind them able Ibn Saud solidified their gains by cutting the customs duties at Hodeida 50% last week. . Hard-pressed indeed was their prey, Yahya ibn Hamid-ed-Din, Imam Yemen scion of Mohammed’s daughter Fatima’ and her husband Ali the fourth Caliph. He wanted to treat with Ibn Saud but his eldest son, the Emir el Hadi Mohammed Seif al Islam, suspicious and arrogant as his father but not so wise, is jealous of Ibn Saud’s great prestige. Emir called for war, for more war, for the Imam’s abdication in his favor. While the son launched guerrilla raids on Ibn Saud’s supply trains in the hills, the compact crinkle-bearded old man scrambled up into Sana, city of 40,000, and squatted in his throne room where the only ornament on the dark blue walls is his own scimitar. Refusing to abdicate, he set about rallying his black, wiry, citizens for the defense of Sana. Suddenly at week’s end frugal Yahya put his troublesome son behind him and sued for peace. Ibn Saud nailed home his conditions and declared an armistice. Hungrily his three armies halted in their tracks outside Sana…………..”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Biblical Monuments, Islamic Monuments………


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“Soon afterward the minions of the self-appointed caliph of the freshly self-declared Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, paid a visit to the Mosul Museum. It has been closed for years for restoration, ever since it was looted along with many of Iraq’s other institutions in the wake of the culturally oblivious American-led invasion of 2003. But the Mosul Museum was on the verge of reopening, at last, and the full collection had been stored there……… … Soon after al-Bagdhadi’s men arrived in Mosul, they told the museum staff that the ancient statues were “against Islam.” But then they left the building. The collections remained unmolested for several days, and the initial reports that the statues had been smashed appear to have been erroneous. The photographs of shattered sculptures that circulated on the Web actually came from Syria, according to local officials in Mosul. But the caliphate’s gauleiters issued a city charter and declared in its Article 13 that “false idols” would have to be destroyed. For this strain of Sunni Muslim jihadists, any representation of the human form (with the apparent exception of their own propaganda videos), any shrine that might lend itself to idolatry, and any place of worship dedicated to the faith of supposedly heretical Shia Muslims must be obliterated…………..”

Before ISIS (ISIL) the other Wahhabi power, Saudi Arabia, had started to dismantle the premier monuments of early Islamic history in its birthplace of Mecca and Madinah. Excerpts from relevant previous posts:

“I have written earlier posts on this topic, how a combination, an alliance of royal greed and Wahhabi dogma has destroyed, is still destroying the priceless historical monuments of early Islam. It is downright criminal what the Al Saudi princes and their merchant allies and retainers are doing. Properties closest to the Kaaba are the priciest, and that is where monuments of early Islam were located. Ergo, these monuments were doomed once the Saudi princes set their eyes on that prime land, within walking distance to the Holy Mosques”.

“It is not only the Wahhabi dogma against any historic sites, nay against history. It is also greed: properties in Mecca that are near the Kaaba are valuable. The tear them down to build expensive 5-star or 7-star hotels and apartments and shopping centers. Greed combines with Salafi dogma to doom the ancient monuments of early Islam. Homes and mosques of the Prophet and some of his early followers have been destroyed and built over with new ‘properties.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Sectarian GCC, Delusional GCC: Third Battle of Qadisiyyah, Second Battle of Karbala…….

      


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In
the year of Our Lord 15 Hijri (about 636 AD), the Muslim Arab fighters won a big victory at the Battle of Qadisiyyah in what is today’s Iraq. That opened the door for the spread of Islam to Mesopotamia and Persia and beyond.



In
September of 1980, while Iran was in revolutionary turmoil, Saddam Hussein’s army invaded the Iranian province of Khuzistan (a.k.a Arabistan). Saddam made several demands and goals for his invasion, none of which were met at the end of the war. Seeing the dire situation inside Iran, he had expected a quick victory, as did most Arabs and many in the West (even the once-venerable The Economist wrote stupidly in 1980 that Iran might become an Iraqi satrapy). Saddam got the support of all the GCC states of the Persian Gulf, moral support, propaganda support, money support, and weapons. He also got the support of all the Western powers: weapons, intelligence, even some limited military action. As well as supplies of chemical weapons and overlooking his use of WMD against Iraqi Kurds and Iranian soldiers. 
Not all Arabs sided with him: Syria, Libya, and Algeria among the Arab states, and a faction of the PLO, did not side with Saddam. The late King Hussein of Jordan, the man who lost Jerusalem and the whole West Bank to the Israeli IDF in one single day, even went to the front and fired some symbolic shots at the Iranians. Iraqi propaganda and Persian Gulf supporters called the war Qadisiyyah of Saddam. In the end Iraq came out of this war a financially broken country. That was when he turned his guns against the Gulf people who had stood by his side. He invaded Kuwait in August 2, 1990 and the rest is history.


Now
we have the Wahhabi terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, ISIL) sweeping across northern Iraq. The same great Gulf GCC
tribal sectarian minds that cheered Saddam before 1990 are now cheering ISIS. Many of them are claiming that ISIS is really a nationalist rebirth of the Baath Party, apparently a softer Iraqi Baath Party that can now get along with the absolute tribal rulers of the Gulf. Maybe it is not the same Baath Party that invaded Kuwait and threatened the terrified Saudi princes until the Americans showed up and chased them out. Now they claim they are cheering for the disenfranchised Sunnis of Iraq, the 20% who have not reconciled to losing power. 
Diehard
sectarians in the Persian Gulf region are coming out of the closet, out in the open; not that they were ever well hidden. From tribal academics to media stars to liberal-Wahhabi-men-and-women-about-town to the clownish chief of the Dubai Police Dhahi Khalfan, they are all in justification mode, using crass sectarian terms. The same crass sectarian terms they used in the 1980s until Saddam’s tanks moved toward the south in 1990.
Now they see this new turmoil in Iraq as a third Battle of Qadisiyyah, or maybe as a second Battle of Karbala, as the Wahhabi invaders in Iraq are hinting at.
 

It
is as if on my Gulf they have not learned any lesson from the past few decades. It is as if delusion is like an heirloom handed down from foolish fathers to foolish sons and daughters in the GCC countries of the Gulf.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Sahel Oman: Coast of Oman and Rewriting History in the Gulf of Mercenaries…….


      


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Rewriting history and faking history has become a habit in our native region, especially in the Gulf GCC states. But it is a good thing that ‘facts’ are stubborn, mostly. This week’s political noise about an Al-Jazeera documentary film on the Coast of Oman is a good example.

When we were children growing up on the hot shores of the Gulf (Gulf of Mercenaries? Persian-American Gulf?) we knew about Sahel Oman (ساحل عمان) from readings and from family members. We called the whole coast south of Bahrain and Qatar by one name: Sahel Oman (Coast of Oman). We had student colleagues and friends from what is now the UAE and we called them ‘Omani students’: they did not seem to object. Dubai existed as Dubai, a commercial center, as did Al Sharjah and maybe Ras Al Khaimah. Abu Dhabi existed, but barely. We never heard or read about Abu Dhabi or some of the other emirates. Maybe we were ignorant, but we called the region: Sahel Oman. As did the other Arab media whenever they paid attention to the Arab side of the Gulf beyond Bahrain and Kuwait. In those days Bahrain was were the political action and political news were: even then the people were in constant rebellion against the absolute Al Khalifa clan and their British advisers (how some things never change!). Not much has changed in Bahrain: except for the unwelcome intrusion of Saudi troops and other imported foreign mercenaries shoring up the regime.
Now this recent recent documentary film on Al-Jazeera about Sahel Oman has riled up the UAE (mainly Abu Dhabi), and some of their Saudi allies are also making the right supportive noises. Saudi mouthpiece Asharq Alawsat (owned by Crown Prince Salman) had its obedient chief editor blast the film as a Qatari insult to the United Arab Emirates. The film is reportedly non-political, although the Qataris must have suspected that it would upset up the ruling potentates of the UAE who fancy themselves the heirs of the Greek-Persian-Roman-Babylonian-Umayyad-Abbasid empires (now they can add ancient Egypt through their share of the Gulf investment in Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi). 

 

Cheers

mhgm.h.ghuloum@gmail.com