TTP and the Army Public School Carnage: The Murderous Context

17 Dec

On the morning of 16th December 2014, the British public (especially the Pakistani diaspora resident in the UK) woke to an unfolding horror in Peshawar, Pakistan. In the most bloody and shocking attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in several years, a group of men entered the Army Public School in the Khyber Phaktun Khuwa (KPK) provincial Capital and opened indiscriminate fire. The army commandos arrived moments later and a stand off began with exchange of rapid fire and chaotic scenes of school children in their uniforms, running in fear for their lives, shown live on Pakistani television channels. The siege was ended several hours later with the death toll at an eye watering 141, the vast majority of those innocent school children. No exegesis or outpouring of words can do justice to the abhorrence of this tragedy and it deserves unequivocal, universal and united condemnation in the strongest terms. No contextual or rational discourse can legitimise or lessen the evil of this act and those responsible should be dragged to justice.

Unfortunately, it takes such perverse events to focus the attention of the world media and public upon what is a reality of daily life for the residents of Northern Pakistan. The plight of internally displaced Pakistanis (given the catchy acronym IDPs by the Pakistani media) is lost on the world media, experts in selective moral outrage. The Pakistani Armed Forces began a massive cleansing operation, ironically entitled Zarb-e-Azb after the sword of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), attacking the Northern Areas to allegedly remove the terrorist threat posed by the TTP. This operation has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people (the aforementioned IDPs), the destruction of their land and houses and the killing of hundreds of people (surprisingly none of them reported as innocent civilians). Any sane individual can see the clear bad will such an offensive would generate amongst the local populace. It is shocking that such a context has not led to more horrible acts such as the one under discussion here.

Sadly, this was and is not an unavoidable reality. The Pakistani administration, led by the army, is the chief culprit in the chain of events leading us to this massacre. They undertook an operation at the behest and repeated pressure of the USA, themselves stuck in a mire in Afghanistan. The Americans had marked 2014 as their intended year of withdrawal from Afghanistan, having failed to quash the Taliban resistance movements there. They have faced increasing attacks and pressure from such forces, those allegedly defeated way back in 2002 with George Bush’s ‘declaration of victory’. As the US and their allies have slowly found out, there is a harsh reality to why this area is termed the ‘Graveyard of Empires’. Raider after raider, conqueror after conqueror and army after army has crashed against the indomitable spirit of the Pakhtun people and failed to overcome them. The last 2 centuries alone will provide testimonies of the British Empire, USSR and now USA failing in this endeavor. In this context, the USA ordered the Pakistan army to release some of the pressure they faced, by attacking the safe havens, supply routes and training facilities of the Taliban East of the Pak-Afghan border. This operation was the execution of an American proposal with the Pakistan army acting as an on-lease division of the US military, with an appropriately timed attack to curate public opinion in favour of the move.

The repercussions, however, are felt by the Pakistani man, woman and child, being seen as legitimate retaliatory targets by those who are, in turn, being targeted by the Pakistani army. Is the Pakistani administration not aware of the history of this region and the Pakhtun peoples? Why would they place the masses in direct danger by doing the bidding of the NATO forces? Astonishingly, why is nobody prepared to discuss this reality? The context can be stretched back to the treachery of Musharraf in allowing the Americans unrestricted access to Pakistani land, bases, infrastructure and individuals, including the likes of Dr Afia Siddiqui. This was the sowing of the seed which has grown into a full tree and the bitter fruits of which we are now being forced to taste. The TTP did not exist prior to Pakistan joining this War of Terror. No suicide bombings, school shootings, mosque and imam bargah attacks or army infrastructure targeting was carried out by any of these groups until this fateful juncture. Why then are we not blaming this criminal for stoking Pakistan into this fire, instead narrowly focusing upon the mindless murderers who carry out the heinous act alone?

Last year, within a couple of weeks, the American drones targeted two Madrassas, killing 70 and 80 children in the two attacks. The alleged aim was to target Ayman Al-Zwahiri, the head of Al-Qaeda. Not surprisingly, he was not one of the casualties on either occasion. Where was the Western media with its unified outrage at these atrocities? Why was the murder of these innocents not met with a violent response from the Pakistan army or grandiose statements from the government? Were they lesser human beings, less innocent or not children? It is folly to believe that the Western media care about the deaths of Muslim children, until it is politically expedient. Palestinian children are murdered, beaten, incarcerated and denied any semblance of human dignity. But the West collectively supports the occupier and murderer, Israel’s, ‘right to defend itself’, including the media. The, allegedly peaceful, Buddhist monks have levied far greater atrocities and deaths upon the innocent Rohingya Muslims in Burma over several months. Muslim children are martyrs and refugees in the millions in Syria but the Western media is focused on ISIS. The Pakistani army continues to be a ‘robust ally’ of the Americans despite the wide spread evidence of the involvement of the CIA, Blackwater and others in false flag operations, death, destruction and devious funding throughout Pakistan for several years.

There are numerous angles to this discourse and the open wound inflicted by the vile criminals at APS may provide the opportune moment for introspection and analysis. Should Pakistanis continue to bear the brunt of a war started, and disastrously executed by the imperial USA, themselves relatively safe from the blowback thousands of miles away? Why should the Pakistanis feel terrorised and fearful on their streets just to ensure the NATO occupying forces can sleep in relative calm in Afghanistan? Should the Pakistani government start up a reinvigorated operation to target the malcontents who carried out these attacks, when the last operation was a direct cause of this atrocity?

The attackers stated, in clear-cut terms, that they targeted this school because it was run by and for the Pakistani military, as retaliation to their “criminal operations” in northern Pakistan. Yet, today the Pakistani army has launched fresh airstrikes in the same area, killing 57 ‘terrorists’. Amazingly, they are so precise with their targeted killing, even from the air, that none of them have been reported as innocent civilians by the Pakistani media. No Western media, government or social network commentators will bemoan this loss of life and bloodshed. It is non-sensical to refuse to heed the lessons of history. The Americans will leave. Pakistan will have to deal with the aftermath. Stop attacking people who do not forget or forgive for generations. To quote Albert Einstein on such deluded acts – “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Stop the bloodshed or we will, and I hope I am wrong, be condemning another atrocity and forgetting the Pakistani administration was the architect of such a response.


Karbala: Amr’ Bil Ma’aroof wa Nahi Anil Munkar

9 Nov

Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar and the blessed month is the cause of much reflection upon the year that has passed and reaffirming of positive intentions for the upcoming one. Of course this is a continuous process for Muslims but it is undeniable that the month is given special significance. In the absence of any special context, this month would still retain a special place amongst the Muslim psyche the world over. Yet, as every Muslim man, woman and child knows, there is a deeply bittersweet historical narrative that adds significance to Muharram.

Sayyidina Ali (RA) was the last of the Khulafah Rashida and embodied the true essence of what a leader of the state ought to be endowed with, in terms of character and understanding of the burden placed upon him. By way of example, he gave one of his generals, Malik Al Ashtar, an express instruction before sending him on an expedition to Egypt: “Infuse your heart with mercy, love and kindness for your subjects. Be not in face of them a voracious animal, counting them as easy prey, for they are of two kinds: either they are your brothers in religion or your equals in creation. Error catches them unaware, deficiencies overcome them, evil deeds are committed by them intentionally and by mistake. So grant them your pardon and your forgiveness to the same extent that you hope Allah will grant you His pardon and His forgiveness. For you are above them, and he who appointed you is above you, and Allah is above him who appointed you. Allah has sought from you the fulfillment of their requirements and He is trying you with them”. This is important to understand as it was the dereliction of this duty, which ultimately led to the tragic events lending significance to Muharram.

Ali (RA) was fatally wounded and ultimately passed away in 40 AH, stabbed by a Kharji. This led to a tumultuous period where, after Sayiddina Hassan (RA) had held the seat of the Khilafah for 6 months, Muawiyyah (RA) assumed the seat by force. Towards the end of Mawiyyah (RA)’s tenure, he sought bayyah (pledge of allegiance) for his son Yazid to replace him as leader of the Muslim ummah. This was a vastly controversial call and caused a lot of unrest amongst the ummah. Firstly, it broke away from the established tradition of allowing the ummah to choose their leader freely, heading towards a dynastic monarchy. Secondly, it was well established that Yazid was not of a sufficient calibre to hold the prestigious office, to put the point very delicately. Muawiyyah (RA) sought bayyah by force from the dissenters and, upon his demise, Yazid became the leader of the Muslim ummah. The scale of discontent amongst the ummah at this decision can be measured by the sheer fact that, to this day, 14 centuries later, the vast majority of Muslims, regardless of sect, agree upon the illegitimacy of Yazid’s rule. Yazid’s conduct and rule proved as bad as, or worse than, expectation, strengthening calls for his removal as leader of the state.

It was within this context that Sayyidina Hussain (RA) was invited to lead a movement to uproot the evil of Yazid, by the people of Kufa, Ali (RA) loyalists, as it had been the capital of the Islamic state during his Khilafah. The Quran speaks about the importance of ‘enjoining the good and forbidding the evil’ on numerous occasions. Allah SWT addresses the ummah saying “You are the best nation brought forward to mankind, you enjoin all that is good and forbid all that is evil and you believe in Allah” (Surah Ale- Imran 3:110). The Prophet SAW detailed the importance of this obligation saying “I (vow) by the One in Whose hands my soul rests, you have to enjoin the Ma’ruf (good) and forbid the Munkar (evil), otherwise Allah will send upon you a punishment from Him, and then you would pray to Him and ask Him but He would not answer you”.

Hussain (RA) understood the vitality of this duty upon all Muslims and set off for Kufa, accompanied by his family. As he reached the grounds of Karbala, outside of Kufa, the forces of Yazid met him. Numbering thousands to quash an uprising from 72 people, including women and children, seems a case of overdoing it but such was the conduct of the Yazidi rule. The people of Kufa failed to make good on their promise and Hussain (RA) was left to face the armies of the state along with a few score individuals. The details of the tribulations faced by Hussain (RA) are not the focus of this article. Suffice it to say that the Yazidi army breached every limit of ethics and morality in dealing with the grandson of the Prophet SAW. Hussain (RA) refused to bow or surrender and was martyred, giving an undying significance to the month of Muharram till the day of judgement.

Are we merely set to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain (RA) every Muharram, a Muslim version of wearing the ‘poppy’? Is there any meaning to this martyrdom or is it to be seen as just any another event of state violence? The lessons from this sad occurrence, for this ummah, are pertinent and clear-cut in this modern state of affairs where it faces many a challenge once again.

Hussain (RA) embodied the highest of the obligations, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, even if it were at the cost of one’s life, family and all else. He (RA) attained martyrdom and will be rewarded for his sacrifice by the Creator of the heavens and the earth in sha Allah. His legacy should inspire and revive this ummah. Across the world, there are 57 Muslims majority countries yet none establish the deen of Allah SWT. Where is our equivalent sacrifice? Where is our fulfillment of the duty to enjoin good and forbid evil? The greatest evil on this planet is the absence of Allah’s law being established. The highest good is to establish Islam as a living breathing entity, so that it may free those oppressed by the shackles of these fluctuating forms of democracy, dictatorship and monarchy.

Pakistan currently finds itself in desperate need of this lesson. In the grip of inept and corrupt governments and charlatans trying to prey upon people’s disillusionment with such leaders, by proposing a continuation of the status quo. Those pretending to present alternatives to the situation are adamant in trying to claim that the problem lies with those in leadership and not with the system itself. However, the system isn’t broken. It was built this way. Pakistanis should not become a part of this charade. They are right to be disenchanted by the system in place; they must seek the correct solutions. Enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Work to establish Islam so that we may stand on our own feet as an example of the harmony, justice and beauty of the Islamic system, as obedient servants of our Lord and Creator. The entrance to Harvard Law School, in the USA, has the inscription of an Aya’ of the Quran, which should be the foundation for every individual and collective struggle taking place in Pakistan, and across the Muslim world: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort justice or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do” (Surah Al-Nisa : 135). Work to establish that justice. Work to establish Islam.


Honour Killings: Exploring the Narrative

14 Jul

On the 27th May 2014, Farzana Parveen, a 25 year old woman, was attacked by several members of her family outside a court in Lahore and killed in broad daylight. The attackers included her father and her brothers and the murdered woman was accompanied by Mohammed Iqbal, the man she had married against her family’s wishes. They were to arrive at the court for a hearing regarding a case registered by her family.

The are several instances of such ‘Honour Killings’ in Pakistan. However, this case drew a great degree of attention and comment from media here in the West, speaking against the backward nature of the practice and the lack of women’s rights in Pakistan, specifically, and the Muslim world, generally.

A few weeks later, a related topic caused much furore on social media and the blogosphere. There is an annual speaking event at the Sydney Opera House entitled ‘The Festival of Dangerous Ideas’. As the name suggests, the event intends to host controversial topics and provide a ‘safe place’ for the airing of ideas which are anathema to general societal discourse. Previous topics have sought to justify the use torture and the events in which murder would be legitimate. For the 2014 event, an Islamic speaker, Uthman Badar, was scheduled to deliver a talk under the title ‘Honour Killings are Morally Justified’. As soon as the announcement was made (the event isn’t to be held until August 2014), the internet went wild at the suggestion and the burden of complaint forced the organisers to crumble and cancel the talk. This article intends to outline the surrounding discourse in this arena and the apportioning of societal blame for such ills.

Firstly, to the specific case at hand. Mr Iqbal, the husband of the deceased, admitted that he had murdered his first wife to marry the victim in this episode. Further, as has been discussed in Pakistani media at length (for example Mubasher Luqman’s ‘Khara Such’), Mrs Parveen was already married to her maternal cousin. In the existence of such marriage, her liaisons would amount to adultery and not a valid marriage. Regardless of this, there are issues surrounding this arena of discourse in an Islamic society which are absent from the emotion driven discussions which follow such tragic events.

The Islamic standard of marriage requires, amongst other things, the approval of a Wali, a guardian for the bride. Pakistan, which claims to have a Constitution in line with Islam, fails to uphold this standard if it doesn’t establish this requirement. In fact, it allows people to marry without this stipulation where cases of this nature arise. Why is this so? Why is Pakistan concerned with conforming to illicit standard of modernity in contravention of the Islamic requirement? This is a common theme across all such cases in the country. This means that, from an Islamic perspective, these marriages are null and void. So what does this imply about the nature of a physical relationship between a man and a woman, without a valid nikah? It is haram and against Islam. What does the Pakistani legal system or the various governments do about this? Nothing.

Further, what is Islam’s idea of relations between men and women outside of marriage? I think the answer is too self evident to require a response. Once again, something which is considered strictly haram. What options does a family have at the discovery of such relations between men and women? They often trump up fallacious charges of kidnap or rape, to bend the law to address this serious shortcoming in Pakistani law. Who’s failing is this? When you, as a society, fail to provide a system which is in line with the ideological stances of the people, such system must take a huge portion of the blame for the resultant travesties and crimes. In the vacuum created by this failure to uphold Islam’s laws, ethos or injunctions, it is sad but not surprising that people will often take the law into their own hands. Consider the case of Mumtaz Hussain Qadri shooting the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. If Pakistan had a robust system, which upheld the laws about the sanctity of the Prophet SAW, in a fair and just manner, people would be less likely to take the matters into their own grasp. Move beyond the intelligentsia and wannabe liberal elites and ask a majority of the population of Pakistan: do you think what Qadri did was correct? The answer, from my empirical observation, will be a resounding yes.

It is important for me to clarify some aspects, for the avoidance of confusion. I do not intend to exonerate or excuse the behaviour of those who see it as their right to take someone’s life in such situations. It is a criminal act and societies cannot thrive with chaos. ‘Honour Killing’ or the murder of Taseer are exactly what the label suggests: Murder. They deserve condemnation. However, harmony can only be established in a society when the laws protect the ideological dispositions of it’s populace. Understanding the motives behind a crime are more vitally important than the statistic of the crime itself. The levers which push people to act in such irrational manners must be nullified by accurate and detailed regulation, which allow people to attain inner harmony. In a country such as Pakistan, with a 97 percent Muslim populace, the system must be that of Islam: both in governance and in legislation. This is the first step to eradicating some of these ills which affect the Pakistani psyche and, with it, the population’s behaviour. No sane individual will argue that any rational or ‘normal’ human being would be willing to so much as see a scratch on their very own child. There must be extenuating circumstances which push people to this sort of extreme behaviour. Islam further stipulates that a marriage cannot be contracted without the clear consent of both parties. This isn’t a case of forced marriage but an upholding of Islam.

Finally, a short look at the idea of honour killings (notice the lack of capital letters) being picked up by the western media. This outrage is selective and should allow for a rational critique. The hypocrisy is inherent within the statistics: a third of women killed in the USA, the world’s leader in preaching morals and ethics, are victims of a past or current male partner. However, no outrage is reserved for addressing these ‘Honour Killings’. Why? Because such narratives are used to make the other, the foreigners and them Muslims, look like medieval age dwellers with a backward mindset. It is prudent to be aware of the dangers of such propositions and the reasoning for why such positions are advanced by the West and their stooges within Pakistan. A bit of collar gazing would be imminently advised.

Killing for honour is an absolutely normal part of human life and touted as a position of pride. Do the army of Pakistan, USA, Britain or any other nation not fight and kill for honour? Is it not considered one of the highest attainments of respect within such societies? Do the armies not take an oath to protect and serve their nation, no matter what this may end up entailing? Here, in the UK, the army are regularly hailed as heroes, despite the horrible collective war crime of the Iraq War. The explanation forwarded is that the armies are merely carrying out the orders as directed by the government. They risk their lives for such orders yet are deemed worthy of the highest praise and honours. Does Pakistan not consider it an honour that the Pakistani soldiers fight for their country? Whether the wars maybe right or wrong? Do we criticise individual soldiers for being a mercenary group for an American war in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Despite the army’s reputation taking a battering in Pakistan, individual soldiers still retain the utmost respect from the general public. These missions and wars are not their fault. It is often an insincere political and military leadership which makes these ludicrous decisions.

It is simple to deduce that there are only selective forms of honour killing which attract such outrage. An individual, acting out of helplessness and the failure of law to uphold their societal beliefs, is a criminal. An organised assault, by a representative group of the same society, on a much larger scale with much more dreadful consequences (look at the plight of IDPs), is hailed as heroic. The hypocrisy is eye watering.

Until the establishment of an Islamic system within Pakistan, and other Muslim societies, such tragedies are a reflection of the juxtaposition between belief and legislation. It doesn’t excuse the crime but it does show how both the criminal and the victim are, in fact, victims of the disease at the heart of the society.

The Death Penalty for AQ Molla: A Travesty

10 Dec

Abdul Quader Molla, the leader of the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) in Bangladesh is reportedly going to be hung for war crimes attributed to him during the shambolic ‘War of Independence’ of 1971, in which Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan and became a separate nation. This, if it comes to be executed, will be a heinous crime against humanity and against the Muslim Ummah. One would expect nothing less from the despicable Sheikha Hasina government, an open enemy of Islam and Muslims. This article shall assess the inherent flaws and hypocrisy within the conduct of the trial, the motivations behind such abhorrence and the inherent hypocrisy of those in power.

Bangladesh, a large and vibrant Muslim populace, played a foundational role in the formation of Pakistan, carving out the Muslim nation from British India. In fact, the All India Muslim League, the chief driving force behind this partition, was formed in Dhaka in 1906. In a typical exemplification of the disease of nationalism, the Bengalis developed many legitimate grievances against the Western Pakistanis. These annoyances spanned the economic, political, military and linguistic arenas, to name a few. Conversely, all of these resentments are held by Balochistan, KPK and Sindh against Punjab to this very day. The weakening of the Islamic bond allowed these artificial standards to become the arbitrary criterion of decision making and a hysteria of nationalism was whipped up against the ‘occupying’ Pakistani army. The Mukti Bahni, with the direct support and intervention of the Indian army, declared independence after defeating the Pakistani army. Whilst the topic is beyond the remit of the discourse here, the fact that the two sides were led by odious characters such as Bhutto, Mujib, Yahya and General Niazi should shed some light upon the reality of this pathetic struggle for ‘independence’.

The JI, which had correctly opposed the creation of Pakistan and surrendering of the whole of India, opposed this proposed split of the largest and strongest Muslim nation on earth. They felt it an affront to Islam and it’s values of brotherhood between the Ummah. They campaigned actively to stop this great atrocity from taking place, a moment considered by many as a major disaster for the Ummah in the 20th century, along with the destruction of the Khilafah and the occupation of Masjid Al-Aqsa. This forms the backdrop to the alleged crimes committed by the JI and Abdul Qader Molla has been convicted of assisting the occupiers in this unholy war of separation.

The case displays some of the most glaring examples of breaches of human rights, political opportunism and the tyrannical cowardice of the leaders of the Muslim nations worldwide. AQ Molla was brought to trial over 40 years after this shameful episode of independence. Why did it so long for him to be brought to trial, if the alleged crimes were so evidently abhorrent and the evidence so compelling as to merit the death penalty? Why must one view this as anything other than political opportunism? Where was this clarity of thought and conviction for the past 4 decades? It is telling that this trial took place amidst the most disturbing clashes between those calling for Islam and the secularists within Bangladesh. This has been the most politically turbulent and violent phase of Bangladeshi history since independence. Many scores of those calling for Islam and protesting against the charade of a trial were killed at the hands of the Bengali police and security forces. One could not but adduce the basis of this pathetic attempt at divisive politics; the ensuring of a chasm between opposing ideological spheres to exploit in the now imminent elections.

If these trials are to be conducted, why is JI the only one facing this barrage of nationalist manipulation? Why are the Pakistani army generals and political leaders, responsible for the butcher of their fellow Muslims and Pakistanis, responsible for the waves of rape and looting, still walking this earth without accountability? When was the last serious attempt by Bangladesh to bring these people to justice? Let us have requests for these individuals to be indicted and made to face trial. Let us see some members of the Mukti Bahni, the murderous traitors who conspired with India to kill Urdu speakers and attack Pakistani military targets, hang for their behaviour. Let us discuss the track record of Sheikha Hasina’s father, Mujib-ur-Rehman, a known agent of the non-Muslim powers, be discussed in the public arena. The hypocrisy inherent within the conduct of the Awami League could not be more glaring.

As a result of the trial, AQ Molla was sentenced to life imprisonment. This brought out many thousands of secularists onto the streets, protesting against the alleged leniency shown towards him. Can a mob be allowed to affect the process of law? Can sentences be passed to appease and please the masses? What of the rule of law and equitable execution of such, without regard for populist sentiment? However, it would only be a blindly foolish individual who would expect such upstanding behaviour from a government of no morals and ethics.

In response to these protests, the government amended the law retrospectively, allowing for the Supreme Court to transform Mr Molla’s sentence to a death penalty. Any student of law, international or otherwise, can see the absurdity of such a situation. For laws to be amended at the whim and desire of governments, to target individuals or groups, leads to nothing other than tyranny. It allows governments to stifle dissent, corrupt legal processes and a feeling of societal degradation and mistrust to prevail. Khalida and Hasina can play dirty tricks to ensure that those they feel enmity towards or those they fear politically can be silenced, permanently if needed, to strengthen their grasp on power.

The trial, and the proposed sentencing of the JI leader, is nothing but further evidence of enmity towards Islam that the political and military establishment within Bangladesh harbour. The examples of this are copious in Bangladesh’s short history. May Allah SWT protect AQ Molla and may he be lifted amongst the shuhada of this Ummah, if this despicable act is carried out. These injustices reaffirm the need for Muslim unity and brotherhood. Only Islam can give sanctity to the blood of Muslims, every drop of which is holier than the Ka’ba itself. The Muslims of Bangladesh, and the Ummah generally, should recognise the war that is being waged against Islam on every level by these puppets of the West. It is nigh on time that we wake up and realise this truth for ultimately the victory is for those who are true to their covenant with the Creator of the heavens and the earth. “And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.” (The Holy Quran, 8:30)


The Tackling Extremism Report: An Analysis

10 Dec

On the 3rd December 2013, Jeremy Paxman began the BBC news affairs programme, Newsnight, by questioning whether society was beginning to display signs of a new strand of ‘McCarthyism’. He was, of course, referring to the saga involving Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing and the subsequent calls for him to be tried for treason. The irony of that sentence would strike anyone reading the ‘Tackling Extremism in the UK’ report presented for mass-consumption, in the last few days.

The report demonstrates the hypocrisy and scaremongering agenda of the British government towards the Muslim community, something that both past and present governments have consistently done. The stated aim of the report is tackle the problem of extremist ideologies, leading people on to the path of violence, and suggests measures to counter such ideologies. The extreme right wing neo-nazi world view does get an honourable mention in the initial paragraphs of the report. However, the entirety of the report is focused upon identifying and tackling the problem of ‘Islamist’ ideologies.

The first problem that stands out to any neutral observer is the criminalisation of any behaviour which does not fit into the remit of ‘British Values’, the most ambiguous and vaguely defined term one is likely to counter being spouted by otherwise educated and intellectual individuals, in pursuit of a heinous agenda. The report argues that anybody speaking up against the inherent problems of democracy, individual freedoms or freedom of expression is to be categorised within such manner. In essence, if you agree with the current political paradigm, you’re safe; otherwise you run the risk of political heresy. So do not challenge the power of the established political elite whether you’re a Muslim, the right wing extremists, the puritan Socialists or the Anarchists. One and all must obey their terms of serfdom and limit the expression to the various policies of the governments of the time, staying within the political spectrum defined for yourselves.

However, let us call this report what it truly is; an attempt to secularise and create a politically impotent, hollow, ritualistic worship system to replace the deen of Islam. It’s central thesis is that there is too much ‘radicalisation’ within the British society, with people arguing that the Sharia is the only way for man to solve his societal ills and hoping for a united Islamic Caliphate. This must be stopped and countered at every possible level from schools and universities to prisons and mosques. This is a tacit admission of defeat. Despite millions spent to ‘integrate’ the Muslims of this country, to hamper the political awakening of the Islamic community and to de-politicise the very religion, the campaign seems to be facing strong resistance. Why do these Muslims still keep speaking out for the Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Chechens? Why can they not just be patriotic and support ‘our troops’, regardless of the murderous atrocities they commit across the globe? Why must they aspire to a unified Islamic model of governance, not content with their British identity? This report is nothing more than a primitive attack on the very basis of Islamic ideology and jurisprudence. The message is that you can pray as often as you want or fast all year if you must but keep your mouth tightly sealed when it comes to analysing society through the Islamic prism. Do not criticise the idea of democracy being the apex of human political endeavour. Do not question British foreign policy, particularly wars prosecuted under the euphemism ‘War on terror’ in Muslim lands. Be proud that you are British, before all else. Your primary allegiance should lie with the Queen and country. Any failure in these duties placed upon one are to be met with ostracising, ASBOs and prison, if need be. Dissent will be silenced in a manner reminiscent of the worst of the tyrants across the globe.

All of the above is presented whilst attempting to stress that this is not a curtailment of freedom of expression. Plainly put, yes it is. It is the very essence of curtailment of speech. It argues that one is free to express their thoughts and feelings, as long as they do not challenge the norms of society, reminiscent of the crude Ford tagline of ‘any colour, as long as it’s Black’. So one can criticise the legality of the niqab, claim the Islamic sharia is outdated or talk of reforming Islam to bring it in line with ‘modern values’. But, should you talk of the comprehensive application of Islam in society, attempt to help your brethren in Syria by actively partaking in their struggle, argue that there are alternative political models other than democracy or tell Muslims that their identity stems from Islam only, you will face repercussions. Remember this is independent of whether someone undertakes acts of violence, the mere expression of alternative ideological and political paradigms is being criminalised here.

The government will soon realise this is a counter productive measure as it attempts to silence the voices of millions of Muslims and prevent them from believing and expressing key aspects of Islam.

“They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it. It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although those who associate others with Allah dislike it.” (As-Saff, 8:9)


Find the article published here at


Pakistan: Article in Tribute International

5 Dec


Mostar Bridge: Siege of Bosnia

27 Nov

“20 years since the destruction of the Mostar Bridge – The Siege of Bosnia”

As the world remembers, in hush hush tones, the 20th yearly rememberance of the atrocities that unveiled themselves in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the topic continues to retain fresh connotations. In May 2013, six former army and political Croat leaders were sentenced to lengthy prison terms by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, for “a plan together by the JCE (Joint Criminal Enterprise) members to remove the Muslim Population”. The charges related to a variety of heinous assaults but one perpetrator, Slobodan Proljak, received a 20 year sentence for his command of the destruction of the Mostar Bridge and the subsequent siege of the Eastern Quarter of the city. This piece will focus upon a short history of the Mostar Bridge, the development of the aforementioned siege and the lessons for Muslims, specially those living in the West.

The Mostar Bridge was originally built upon the Neretva River and linked the Eastern and Western quarters of the city of Mostar, named after the guardians of the bridge Mostari (Bridge Keepers). This bridge was a wooden structure allowing travel for the soldiers, traders and other travellers. The Ottoman Caliphate took over Mostar in 1468 and the city’s two distinct districts, on opposing banks of the Neretva River were unified into one administrative polity. The town acquired the name Köpruhisär (fortress at the bridge) and the vast majority of the population reverted to Islam. Interesting narrations about this process detail that the Christian inhabitants of this town had previously belonged to the Unitarian belief system, denouncing the idea of Trinity as a erroneous innovation. They had faced persecution at the hands of the surrounding Eastern Orthodox Christendom and saw, in Islam, a perfect embodiment of their belief, namely the unity of the creator and the status of Jesus Christ as messenger rather than The Divine. Their reversion to Islam, therefore, came relatively smoothly.

Suleman the Magnificent (known as Suleman Al-Qanooni within the Islamic world) commissioned for a stone arch to be built linking the two quarters of the city together more cohesively. Mamar Hayruddin completed the architecture and design and the bridge was completed in 1566. It came to represent the splendour and magnificence of Islamic architecture and advancement, being named a World Heritage Site in the 20th century. It’s position, in modern day Europe cut off from the traditional Islamic world, continued to illuminate upon the imprint Muslim civilisations had left upon territories far and wide away from its Arabian birthplace.

At the beginning of the 1990s, the city had a vibrant and dynamic mix of Muslims and Christians and consisted, primarily, of Bosniaks and Croat ethnicities. There was also a claim to the land from the Serbs allied to the neighbouring Yugoslavia. The Yugoslavians launched an offensive against the newly independent Bosnia, as recognised by the European Community, following a vote for independence, in 1992. Following the Yugoslav invasion, the aggression continued with varying degrees of fluidity until 1995, three years of disastrous war crimes, genocide, bombing of civilians and ethnic cleansing.

In the midst of this development, the city of Mostar came under The Serb bombing campaign in April 1992. The Croat forces (HOV) and the Bosnian resistance forces (ARBiH) were allied in their resistance at this juncture and attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to hold their positions as, over the course of the following weeks, the Serbian forces (JNA) attained control of large swathes of the city. By June 1992, the Bosnians and Croats had managed to force the Serbians back out of the city and the struggle for the city moved to an aerial bombing campaign and along with shelling again. Within this campaign, many monumental structures were destroyed including thirteen mosques.

The complexity of the strife did not just pit the above parties against one another in the traditional sense. Eventually, the city of Mostar was divided by the Croats and Bosnians on opposing sides, having been allied in their repulsion of the Serb aggression. The Croats drove out the Bosnian Muslim population of the city out of the Western quarter, dividing the city into the Eastern and Western encampments, upon the banks of Neretva River. Having forced Muslims into the traditional Ottoman Quarter, or Mahalla, the Croats proceeded to shell and siege this area over the next 18 months. During this bloody siege, the Mostar Bridge, the primary display of Muslim architecture in the Balkans, was destroyed by the Croats’ targeted bombing, starting on the 8th November 1993. The bridge was hit by 60 mortar shells directly before it finally collapsed. The Croats, after much evasion, accepted that the bridge had been deliberately targeted as it held “strategic importance”. These claims have been rubbished as it held no strategic relevance and the aim was to make a statement. In actuality, this was a major symbolic moment, being described as an act of “cultural barbarism” by the judiciary at The Hague. The bridge was rebuilt, initially by the Royal British Engineers, replacing the stone arches with a iron structure and opened in 2005.

However, the bridge represents a symbolic point within an unmitigated disaster which unleashed itself upon the Muslims of Bosnia. The world witnessed the horrors of the racial supremacy and the inherent Islamophobia, deeply entrenched long before the horrors of 9/11. The Bosnian war dragged on for three years and claimed the lives of many thousands of innocent civilians (estimates range from 40,000 to 325,000). As Bosnians in Mostar dealt with the repercussions of a lengthy siege, many perished from the shelling, hunger and disease. The UN and the world powers watched on, having taken the step of enforcing a no-fly zone, as the Croats and the Serbs continued with their Nazi-esque plans for the development of super states, representing their respective ethnicities. The Croat leader, Franjo Tudjman, dreamed of an ethnically pure Croat land carved out of Bosnia and Herzegovina and met with the Serb leader, Slobodan Milosevic, at a hunting lodge as they finalised plans for Greater Yugoslavia and Greater Croatia. The targeted expulsion and extermination of Muslims, “the most secularised Muslims in the world”, highlighted the enmity of the western world towards those seen to represent the remnants of Muslim and Ottoman heritage. These thought processes were highlighted vividly at the deliberate massacres, such as Srebrenica, slaughtering, raping and pillaging helpless ‘European’ Muslims.

The lessons from such episodes must not be forgotten, specially by the Muslim world. Sacrificing one’s identity as a religious entity is not a sufficient token of appeasement to those who see Islam as an alien ideology belonging in the Dark Ages. The inaction of Muslims, and more notably their inability to act, in the face of the tragedies at Mostar (and Bosnia in general) continue to be displayed with the political and tangible apathy towards the hideous situation in Syria. This Ummah must retain it’s heritage, both cultural and ideological, and ensure unity to avert travesties of such nature unfolding upon any Muslim anywhere. As the Prophet Mohammed Sallalhu Aleyhay Wasallam said, whilst performing tawaf around the Ka’ba, saying to it “how pure and good you are! how pure and good your fragrance is! how great and exalted you are! and how great and exalted your sanctity is! But by Him in Whose hand is Muhammad’s soul, the sanctity of a believer’s blood and property in the sight of Allah is greater than your sanctity”. (Targhib wa’ l-Tarhib).



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