Release Writers and Publishers arrested in India

Two writers and two publishers were arrested in the Indian Panjab for publishing already published materials that are now deemed ‘casteist or derogatory in nature’. In our view, the local government is appropriating the Dalit issue by imposing this sudden censorship on publishing already published texts. We objects to this appropriation and the attempt to edit texts with hindsight, and demand the immediate release of publishers Amit Mittar and Ashok Garg, writers Jagjit Singh and Sukhwinder Singh. Uddari

Will writers’ penning Waris Shah, Bhai Gurdas next after Rajab Ali, to face police action?
An article by Neel Kamal
Times of India

BARNALA: If celebrated kavishar (folk writer) Rajab Ali’s poetry could get writers and publishers behind bars for reproducing it for it being castiest or derogatory in nature, the state action could also be the same against persons penning words from Bhai Gurdas, Waris Shah’s works having equally castiest content in few chapters! This is the question doing rounds in the minds of Punjab writers and prominent personalities, who have read works of Bhai Gurdas, Waris Shah and eminent Punjabi writer of yore Dhani Ram Chatrik apart from Rajab Ali. The ‘words’ from Rajab Ali’s poetry, which become basis for the arrest of writers and publishers could also been seen in works of other celebrated writers, rue the writers feeling suffocated over the arrests.

It is exactly a week when the two writers and publishers were arrested by Punjab police on the charges of using castiest, derogatory words in two different books pertaining to Rajab Ali. The police had on September 15 arrested the publishers and writers suspecting the books could cause unrest in the state and could lead to rioting or division among communities. Taking the wild imagination of the police head on, the writer fraternity has slammed the state authorities for arresting the writers and publishers only for reproducing the original poetry of Rajab Ali, who had died in 1979. The writers terming the arrests as uncalled for and against the freedom of expression, abuse of law has demanded their immediate release.

Barnala based publisher Amit Mittar, Samana in Patiala based publisher Ashok Garg, village Sahoke in Moga based writer Jagjit Singh and another writer Sukhwinder Singh were arrested on Saturday and are cooling the heels in Barnala and Patiala Jail, waiting to be bailed out.

“The very poem, which allegedly hurt the feeling of dalit community was written decades back by Rajab Ali(1894-1979), whose works have been published by the state run languages department besides various other publishers”, said Shiromani Sahitkar award winner author Om Parkash Gasso.

Many writers and prominent personalities including Institute foe development and communication director and Punjab Governance Reforms Commission chairman Parmod Kumar, Sahitya Akademi award-winning writer Ajmer Aulakh, London based poet Amarjit Chandan, Canada-based writer Navtej Bharti, Professor of Contemporary India Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands Ronaki Ram, Shiromani Sahitkar Om Prakash Gasso, political scientist and historian Harish Puri, writer Nirupama Dutt, Filmmakers Rajeev Sharma, Jainder Mauhar, Daljit Ami, author Satnam, Mushtaq Soofi and Maqsood Saqib condemning government move of arresting the writers have signed a representation to the government demanding their immediate release, arrested under SC/ST act.

Gasso said “these arrests have started debate on the historical books whether they need to be modified of accept it as it is. It is weird that you book a person for editing or publishing pieces in the book which were originally written more than 50 years back. The book was never banned or opposed”. Reprint of the already written words cannot by any stretch of imagination be considered to be a criminal offence. Rajab Ali’ works and the mention of the then used caste names in his poetry have to be understood in the historical context, said Parmod Kumar adding not only Rajab Ali but Waris’ Heer, Bhai Gurdas’ poetry too have words related to various casts”.

The Punjab government, in its overzealous thoughtlessness, has entered a wrong territory, as this is not the only text containing traditional caste names. Such a cleansing, as the Punjab government has attempted to carry out, will need doing away with all the classical Punjabi literature containing the traditional caste names. This includes poetry by the likes of Bhai Gurdas, Waris Shah, Shah Husain and Dhani Ram Chatrik, who are regularly published by various state departments and universities run by the Punjab government, reads the petition made by the signatories. The members of some organizations few days ago had held protest at Moga against the caste based remarks used in the books.

Who was Babu Rajab Ali

Rajab Ali was born in village Sahoke of Moga district and had migrated to Pakistan after partition. He wrote about one dozen kissa and poems about the Hindu mythology, historic figures, Sikh history and heroes like Bhagat Singh, Saka Sirhind. He wrote long poems in Punjabi folklore like Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiba, Dulla Bhatti and Sohni Mahiwal. Even more than three decades of his death, still across the rural Malwa region of Punjab, Rajab Ali’s memories and poems are celebrated.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Will-writers-penning-Waris-Shah-Bhai-Gurdas-next-after-Rajab-Ali-to-face-police-action/articleshow/16505768.cms
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Blasphemy: Another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform – Don’t Support It This Friday

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Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday

‘Honour Killings’
Description

Where women, and some men, are harassed and killed by the male members of their families on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of the family’, but actually to keep control of the property and sexuality rights of women.

Male members are supported by the local authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, and other influentials, in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control of women through extreme punishment is presented by the mainstream culture as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani society.

‘Honour Killings’ support male control and power over all women, but most women who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you support ‘Honour Killings’?

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Blasphemy
Description

Where non-Muslim and Muslim men, and some women, are killed or required to be killed by the extreme religious Muslim groups on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of Islam and its prophet’, but actually (1> to keep control of the property and civic rights of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects, and (2> to use it as a Muslim-mob-generating hysterical street weapon for their petty political ends.

The extreme religious Muslim groups are supported by the local Muslim authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, politicians, lawyers, educators and other dignitaries in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control over minority communities through extreme punishment is presented as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani Muslim society.

‘Blasphemy Killings’ support the control and power of Muslims of a majority ruling sect over all non-Muslim and minority Muslim communities, but most people who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you Support ‘Blasphemy Killings’?

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Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday
Or Ever After!

From
Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws
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Email
uddari@live.ca
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‘On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God’ by Sam Harris

In Hyderabad today, a man was booked for blasphemy simply because he refused to participate in the protest happening in the city against ‘Tauheen-e-Risalat’, the Insult to the Prophet. The situation indeed is deteriorating, now all one has to do to be booked for life or be killed by a mob, is to refuse to participate in this religious madness. And, what does the Government of Pakistan do? The Government responds by declaring this coming Friday as the Love of the Prophet Day. This is ‘officializing’ the hype and the inherent violence of the concept of blasphemy, and, it is shameless capitulation to and appeasing of the extreme right. The following article points to similar dynamics of capitulation and appeasement on the international scene. Uddari
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The latest wave of Muslim hysteria and violence has now spread to over twenty countries. The walls of our embassies and consulates have been breached, their precincts abandoned to triumphant mobs, and many people have been murdered—all in response to an unwatchable Internet video titled “Innocence of Muslims.” Whether over a film, a cartoon, a novel, a beauty pageant, or an inauspiciously named teddy bear, the coming eruption of pious rage is now as predictable as the dawn. This is already an old and boring story about old, boring, and deadly ideas. And I fear it will be with us for the rest of our lives.

Our panic and moral confusion were at first sublimated in attacks upon the hapless Governor Romney. I am no fan of Romney’s, and I would find the prospect of his presidency risible if it were not so depressing, but he did accurately detect the first bleats of fear in the Obama administration’s reaction to this crisis. Romney got the timing of events wrong—confusing, as many did, a statement made by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for an official government response to the murder of Americans in Libya. But the truth is that the White House struck the same note of apology, disavowing the offending speech while claiming to protect free speech in principle. It may seem a small detail, given the heat of the moment—but so is a quivering lip.

Our government followed the path of appeasement further by attempting to silence the irrepressible crackpot Pastor Terry Jones, who had left off burning copies of the Qur’an just long enough to promote the film. The administration also requested that Google remove “Innocence of Muslims” from its servers. These maneuvers attest to one of two psychological and diplomatic realities: Either our government is unwilling to address the problem at hand, or the problem is so vast and terrifying that we have decided to placate the barbarians at the gate.

The contagion of moral cowardice followed its usual course, wherein liberal journalists and pundits began to reconsider our most basic freedoms in light of the sadomasochistic fury known as “religious sensitivity” among Muslims. Contributors to The New York Times and NPR spoke of the need to find a balance between free speech and freedom of religion—as though the latter could possibly be infringed by a YouTube video. As predictable as Muslim bullying has become, the moral confusion of secular liberals appears to be part of the same clockwork.

Consider what is actually happening: Some percentage of the world’s Muslims—Five percent? Fifteen? Fifty? It’s not yet clear—is demanding that all non-Muslims conform to the strictures of Islamic law. And where they do not immediately resort to violence in their protests, they threaten it. Carrying a sign that reads “Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet” may still count as an example of peaceful protest, but it is also an assurance that infidel blood would be shed if the imbecile holding the placard only had more power. This grotesque promise is, of course, fulfilled in nearly every Muslim society. To make a film like “Innocence of Muslims” anywhere in the Middle East would be as sure a method of suicide as the laws of physics allow.
What exactly was in the film? Who made it? What were their motives? Was Muhammad really depicted? Was that a Qur’an burning, or some other book? Questions of this kind are obscene. Here is where the line must be drawn and defended without apology: We are free to burn the Qur’an or any other book, and to criticize Muhammad or any other human being. Let no one forget it.

At moments like this, we inevitably hear—from people who don’t know what it’s like to believe in paradise—that religion is just a way of channeling popular unrest. The true source of the problem can be found in the history of western aggression in the region. It is our policies, rather than our freedoms, that they hate. I believe that the future of liberalism—and much else—depends on our overcoming this ruinous self-deception. Religion only works as a pretext for political violence because many millions of people actually believe what they say they believe: that imaginary crimes like blasphemy and apostasy are killing offenses.

Most secular liberals think that all religions are the same, and they consider any suggestion to the contrary a sign of bigotry. Somehow, this article of faith survives daily disconfirmation. Our language is largely to blame for this. As I have pointed out on many occasions, “religion” is a term like “sports”: Some sports are peaceful but spectacularly dangerous (“free solo” rock climbing, street luge); some are safer but synonymous with violence (boxing, mixed martial arts); and some entail little more exertion or risk of serious injury than standing in the shower (bowling, badminton). To speak of “sports” as a generic activity makes it impossible to discuss what athletes actually do, or the physical attributes required to do it. What do all sports have in common, apart from breathing? Not much. The term “religion” is scarcely more useful.

Consider Mormonism: Many of my fellow liberals would consider it morally indecent to count Romney’s faith against him. In their view, Mormonism must be just like every other religion. The truth, however, is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than its fair share of quirks. For instance, its doctrine was explicitly racist until 1978, at which point God apparently changed his mind about black people (a few years after Archie Bunker did) and recommended that they be granted the full range of sacraments and religious responsibilities. By this time, Romney had been an adult and an exceptionally energetic member of his church for more than a decade.

Unlike the founders of most religions, about whom very little is known, Mormonism is the product of the plagiarisms and confabulations of an obvious con man, Joseph Smith, whose adventures among the credulous were consummated (in every sense) in the full, unsentimental glare of history. Given how much we know about Smith, it is harder to be a Mormon than it is to be a Christian. A firmer embrace of the preposterous is required—and the fact that Romney can manage it says something about him, just as it would if he were a Scientologist proposing to park his E-meter in the Oval Office. The spectrum between rational belief and self-serving delusion has some obvious increments: It is one thing to believe that Jesus existed and was probably a remarkable human being. It is another to accept, as most Christians do, that he was physically resurrected and will return to earth to judge the living and the dead. It is yet another leap of faith too far to imagine, as all good Mormons must, that he will work his cosmic magic from the hallowed ground of Jackson County, Missouri.

That final, provincial detail matters. It makes Mormonism objectively less plausible than run-of-the-mill Christianity—as does the related claim that Jesus visited the “Nephites” in America at some point after his resurrection. The moment one adds seer stones, sacred underpants, the planet Kolob, and a secret handshake required to win admittance into the highest heaven, Mormonism stands revealed for what it is: the religious equivalent of rhythmic gymnastics.

The point, however, is that I can say all these things about Mormonism, and disparage Joseph Smith to my heart’s content, without fearing that I will be murdered for it. Secular liberals ignore this distinction at every opportunity and to everyone’s peril. Take a moment to reflect upon the existence of the musical The Book of Mormon. Now imagine the security precautions that would be required to stage a similar production about Islam. The project is unimaginable—not only in Beirut, Baghdad, or Jerusalem, but in New York City.

The freedom to think out loud on certain topics, without fear of being hounded into hiding or killed, has already been lost. And the only forces on earth that can recover it are strong, secular governments that will face down charges of blasphemy with scorn. No apologies necessary. Muslims must learn that if they make belligerent and fanatical claims upon the tolerance of free societies, they will meet the limits of that tolerance. And Governor Romney, though he is wrong about almost everything under the sun (including, very likely, the sun), is surely right to believe that it is time our government delivered this message without blinking.

Sam Harris is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, and Free Will. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. Harris has been published in more than 15 languages.

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/on-the-freedom-to-offend-an-imaginary-god

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‘Iran resurrects Salman Rushdie threat’ by Robert Tait

Uddari condemns Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, an Iranian Imam, who has chosen, yet again, to target Author Salman Rushdie by reviving Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa. By doing this he has openly instigated violence against an individual; tried to delude Iranians with religious hysteria instead of addressing their real-life issues; perpetuated fear in artists; and, has continued with the vulgarity of using money as incentive to kill human beings.

The Telegraph, UK

Iran has seized on widespread Muslim outrage over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad to revive the death threat against Salman Rushdie, raising the reward for killing him by US$500,000 (£320,000).

Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, head of a powerful state foundation providing relief to the poor, said the film would never have been made if the order to execute Rushdie, issued by the late Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had been carried out.

Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a fatwa sentencing the author to death in 1989 after declaring his novel, The Satanic Verses, “blasphemous”, but Iranian officials later indicated it would not be implemented.
“It [the film] won’t be the last insulting act as long as Imam Khomeini’s historic order on executing the blasphemous Salman Rushdie is not carried out,” he said in a statement.

“If the imam’s order was carried out, the further insults in the form of caricatures, articles and films would not have taken place. The impertinence of the grudge-filled enemies of Islam, which is occurring under the flag of the Great Satan, America and the racist Zionists, can only be blocked by the absolute administration of this Islamic order.”

Ayatollah Saeni’s offer appeared to be an officially-sanctioned attempt by Iran to harness anger across the Muslim world over the film, which was produced by anti-Muslim Christians based in the United States. The film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed in a derogatory manner, has provoked riots and violent attacks on western interests in several Muslim countries, including Libya, where Americans, including the ambassador, were killed.

Although Ayatollah Sanei has offered financial rewards for carrying out the edict in the past, he said Muslim anger over the recent film meant the time was now ripe.
“The aim [of the fatwa] has been to uproot the anti-Islamic conspiracy and now the necessity for taking this action is even more obvious than any other time,” he said. “I’m adding another $500,000 to the reward and anyone who carries out this order will immediately receive the whole amount.” The total bounty is now $3.3m (£2.1 m).

The increased bounty was issued on the eve of the publication of a memoir by Rushdie about his years spent in hiding and living under armed guard from would-be executioners intent on carrying out Khomeini’s sentence.

It also re-opens an affair that appeared to have been laid to rest after Iranian officials gave assurances that the fatwa would not be put into effect.

In 1998, Iran’s reformist then president, Mohammad Khatami, declared the Rushdie affair “completely finished” during an appearance at the UN General Assembly in New York. The Iranian foreign minister at the time, Kemal Kharrazi, also announced that Iran would not threaten the author’s life or encourage others to kill him.

The statements led to a restoration of diplomatic ties between London and Tehran, which Britain had cut in protest. It also prompted Rushdie to come out of hiding.

However, the fatwa – passed four months before Khomeini’s death – was never annulled and hardliners have frequently revived the issue as a political weapon in their internal struggle with more moderate elements in Iran’s theocratic regime.

It is unlikely that Ayatollah Sanei, personal representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the 15th Khordad Foundation, was acting without higher approval. In 2005, Ayatollah Khamenei himself reaffirmed the fatwa while addressing pilgrims preparing to visit Mecca.

In a speech last Friday, he decried the film as the work of US imperialism and “Zionism” and linked it to other perceived western attacks on Islam, including The Satanic Verses and the Danish cartoon contest depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

“Had they not backed the previous links in this evil chain, namely Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist, and the US pastors who burned the Holy Koran and had they not made orders for [production of] tens of anti-Islam movies to companies affiliated to the Zionist capitalists, things would not have lead to this great and unforgivable sin today,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of the reports and take any threat to the life of a British National very seriously. Our diplomatic position has always been clear that threats to Mr Rushdie are completely unacceptable.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9546513/Iran-resurrects-Salman-Rushdie-threat.html
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‘THE DISAPPEARED – How the fatwa changed a writer’s life’ by Salman Rushdie


Photo from Facebook page Joseph Anton A Memoir

PERSONAL HISTORY
The New Yorker
17 September 2012

1989
Afterward, when the world was exploding around him, he felt annoyed with himself for having forgotten the name of the BBC reporter who told him that his old life was over and a new, darker existence was about to begin. She called him at home, on his private line, without explaining how she got the number. “How does it feel,” she asked him, “to know that you have just been sentenced to death by Ayatollah Khomeini?” It was a sunny Tuesday in London, but the question shut out the light. This is what he said, without really knowing what he was saying: “It doesn’t feel good.” This is what he thought: I’m a dead man. He wondered how many days he had left, and guessed that the answer was probably a single-digit number. He hung up the telephone and ran down the stairs from his workroom, at the top of the narrow Islington row house where he lived. The living-room windows had wooden shutters and, absurdly, he closed and barred them. Then he locked the front door.

It was Valentine’s Day, but he hadn’t been getting along with his wife, the American novelist Marianne Wiggins. Five days earlier, she had told him that she was unhappy in the marriage, that she “didn’t feel good around him anymore.” Although they had been married for only a year, he, too, already knew that it had been a mistake. Now she was staring at him as he moved nervously around the house, drawing curtains, checking window bolts, his body galvanized by the news, as if an electric current were passing through it, and he had to explain to her what was happening. She reacted well and began to discuss what they should do. She used the word “we.” That was courageous.

A car arrived at the house, sent by CBS Television. He had an appointment at the American network’s studios, in Bowater House, Knightsbridge, to appear live, by satellite link, on its morning show. “I should go,” he said. “It’s live television. I can’t just not show up.”

Later that morning, a memorial service for his friend Bruce Chatwin, who had died of AIDS, was to be held at the Greek Orthodox church on Moscow Road, in Bayswater. “What about the memorial?” his wife asked. He didn’t have an answer for her. He unlocked the front door, went outside, got into the car, and was driven away. Although he did not know it then—so the moment of leaving his home did not feel unusually freighted with meaning—he would not return to that house, at 41 St. Peter’s Street, which had been his home for half a decade, until three years later, by which time it would no longer be his.

At the CBS offices, he was the big story of the day. People in the newsroom and on various monitors were already using the word that would soon be hung around his neck like a millstone. “Fatwa.”

I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the “Satanic Verses” book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I ask all the Muslims to execute them wherever they find them.

Somebody gave him a printout of the text as he was escorted to the studio for his interview. His old self wanted to argue with the word “sentenced.” This was not a sentence handed down by any court that he recognized, or that had any jurisdiction over him. But he also knew that his old self’s habits were of no use anymore. He was a new self now. He was the person in the eye of the storm, no longer the Salman his friends knew but the Rushdie who was the author of “Satanic Verses,” a title that had been subtly distorted by the omission of the initial “The.” “The Satanic Verses” was a novel. “Satanic Verses” were verses that were satanic, and he was their satanic author. How easy it was to erase a man’s past and to construct a new version of him, an overwhelming version, against which it seemed impossible to fight.

He looked at the journalists looking at him and he wondered if this was how people looked at men being taken to the gallows or the electric chair. One foreign correspondent came over to him to be friendly. He asked this man what he should make of Khomeini’s pronouncement. Was it just a rhetorical flourish, or something genuinely dangerous? “Oh, don’t worry too much,” the journalist said. “Khomeini sentences the President of the United States to death every Friday afternoon.”

On air, when he was asked for a response to the threat, he said, “I wish I’d written a more critical book.” He was proud, then and always, that he had said this. It was the truth. He did not feel that his book was especially critical of Islam, but, as he said on American television that morning, a religion whose leaders behaved in this way could probably use a little criticism.

When the interview was over, he was told that his wife had called. He phoned the house. “Don’t come back here,” she said. “There are two hundred journalists on the sidewalk waiting for you.”

“I’ll go to the agency,” he said. “Pack a bag and meet me there.”

His literary agency, Wylie, Aitken & Stone, had its offices in a white-stuccoed house on Fernshaw Road, in Chelsea. There were no journalists camped outside—evidently the press hadn’t thought he was likely to visit his agent on such a day—but when he walked in every phone in the building was ringing and every call was about him. Gillon Aitken, his British agent, gave him an astonished look… Continued

Read more
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/17/120917fa_fact_rushdie#ixzz26MSmJpga

From
“The Satanic Verses,” the Fatwa, and a Life 

Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal: Nizami ‘led Al Badr during war’

Sun, Aug 26th, 2012 2:12 pm BdST

Dhaka, Aug 26 (bdnews24.com) — The first prosecution witness against Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami on Sunday said he had led the Al Badr vigilante militia during the 1971 Liberation War.

Himself a former member of Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha, Misbahur Rahman Chowdhury, currently heading a faction of Islami Oikkya Jote, told the first war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh that Al Badr was set up with Jamaat student cadres.

The vigilante groups like Al Badr, Razakar and Al Shams are said to have been widely responsible for war crimes during the Liberation War.

The 57-year old witness said Al Badr was not like other anti-liberation militia groups. “The members were trained by the Pakistani Army and they were, in a way, above the other groups.”

The International Crimes Tribunal-1, set up to try crimes against humanity during the nine-month War of Independence, indicted Nizami on May 28 for 16 war crimes.

The witness said the Jamaat chief’s current number two, the party’s Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, was also his number two during the War in Jamaat’s student wing and also within Al Badr.

Misbahur Rahman also placed Jamaat guru Ghulam Azam, also a former party chief (during 1971), at the court of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia after the Liberation War where the witness had gone to visit the Saudi King as a young leader of a Muslim students’ organisation.

“I saw that Ghulam Azam and his brother Moazzem were already there and the professor (Ghulam Azam) was telling the king that freedom fighters had destroyed mosques.”

He said he heard the Jamaat guru tell the Saudi king that madrasas had been closed and Qurans had become scarce and asked for funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

“Afterwards, I protested what Ghulam Azam had stated pointing out to the king that most of the freedom fighters were Muslims and thus would not have damaged or destroyed mosques.”

Misbahur Rahman Chowdhury told the court that his father had whisked him out of his native Moulvibazar where a local Sangha leader urged him to join the Al Badr.

The witness was then sent off to London, England. “It was very risky at that time to denounce or quiet the Chhatra Sangha.”

However, the witness had to return to Bangladesh within two months as his mother was sick while the war still raged on. He again went to the Great Britain after the war and studied at a college in Wales where he founded a Muslim students’ organisation.

Earlier the first war crimes tribunal rejected a bail petition for acting Jamaat Secretary General A T M Azharul Islam saying that it had previously rejected other bail applicants whose health condition was ‘far worse’ than that of the instant applicant.

The tribunal, however, directed the jail doctor to perform an MRI and a CT scan as recommended earlier and make sure that all medical treatment is accorded to Azharul Islam. The court directed that if needed Azharul Islam be taken to the medical university hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Medical University.

At the second tribunal, Shahriar Kabir, a long time activist calling for the trial of suspected war criminals, testified as the first prosecution witness against Jamaat Secretary General Mujaheed.

bdnews24.com/ta/bd/1355h

From Baseer Naveed
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US Cover-Up of Civilian Drone Deaths in Pakistan – New Evidence

Cover-Up of Civilian Drone Deaths Revealed by New Evidence
By Gareth Porter, Truthout | Report

Truth Out Editors Note: “The New America Foundation (NAF) pages showing purported numbers for civilian drone casualties that are linked to and discussed in this article were previously public (see cached version). As of August 22, a few days after the publication of this article, these pages on the NAF website are no longer available. Gareth Porter has repeatedly contacted various NAF personnel and no explanation has been offered for the unavailability of previously public information. The timing, however, is suggestive.”

Detailed information from the families of those killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and from local sources on strikes that have targeted mourners and rescue workers provides credible new evidence that the majority of the deaths in the drone war in Pakistan have been civilian noncombatants – not “militants,” as the Obama administration has claimed.

The new evidence also shows that the statistical tally of casualties from drone attacks in Pakistan published on the web site of the New America Foundation (NAF) has been systematically understating the deaths of large numbers of civilians by using a methodology that methodically counts them as “militants.”

The sharply revised picture of drone casualties conveyed by the two new primary sources is further bolstered by the recent revelation that the Obama administration adopted a new practice in 2009 of automatically considering any military-age male killed in a drone strike as a “militant” unless intelligence proves otherwise…

Read the rest at Truth Out
http://truth-out.org/news/item/10907-cover-up-of-civilian-drone-deaths-revealed-by-new-evidence

View a poem on drone attacks in Pakistan
‘My Drone Dead Lover’ by Fauzia Rafique
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Make UN Recognize ‘The International Day Against State Religion’ – Sign This Petition

This petition, asking United Nations to recognize a day in the year as The International Day Against State Religion, will help us around the world to root out religious sentiment, and concepts such as blasphemy, from legal and social systems. It will help us move away from incidents like the sectarian murders of 19 Shia Muslims, and the blasphemy arrest of minor Rimsha Masih.

The initiative has been taken by Ghulam Mustafa Lakho, and we need to take it forward by siging this petition, sharing the links, and inviting our friends and colleagues to do the same.

Sign the Petition

Petition for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

To,
The Secretary-General,
United Nations,
UN Headquarters,
New York.

Please take active, effective and meaningful steps for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

The life of non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan is as good as hell thanks to the “State Religion” of Pakistan. Thus, the need of the time is to declare that the “State Religion” is hit by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The eleven (11) words of Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, are on the record: religion has nothing to do with the business of the State. Thus, he spoke on August 11, 1947 in his 1st Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan against the “State Religion”.

None of the members of the Parliament of Pakistan has cared to pay respect to the eleven (11) words of Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan since August 11, 1947. The proof is the “State Religion” in the Constitution of Pakistan.

None of the Parliamentarians of Pakistan is ready and willing to heed the ideas of the Founder of Pakistan on the relation of Religion and State.

Under these facts and circumstances, it may be the humane duty of United Nations to recognize and celebrate the 11th day of August, 1947 as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION in the name of the Universal Human Rights in solidarity with non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

Let the United Nations come for the help of the victims of the “State Religion” in Pakistan as well as around the globe. And, let the 11th day of August, 1947 be recognized as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION.

Sign the Petion
http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/the-secretary-general-united-nations-recognize-the-international-day-against-state-religion-5

Sincerely,
Ghulam Mustafa Lakho
Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan

Contact Ghulam Mustafa Lakho
Blog: http://saynotothestatereligion.blogspot.ca/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gmlakho

Official Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-International-Day-Against-State-Religion/106460822743085

Also, if you haven’t yet,
Please sign the petition to help release Rimsha Masih
http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/freerimshamasih

A poem for the 19 murdered Shia Muslims, and the arrest of Rimsha Masih
Holier Than Life by Fauzia Rafique
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Vancouver Queer Film Festival: COME OUT AGAINST ISRAELI APARTHEID!

Uddari fully supports Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

August 24, 2012
By PWI

(Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories) August 22, 2012. Queer activists and allies gathered outside the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) screening of ‘The Invisible Men’, carrying sparkly signs and handing out pink informational leaflets to festival patrons.

The group came together under the banner Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in response to the VQFF’s screening of two films – ‘The Invisible Men’ and ‘Joe + Belle’ – that have received funding from the Israeli government and support from Israeli cultural institutions. In response to the screening of these films, QuAIA has called on the VQFF to stand in solidarity with Palestinian queers and come out against the Israeli apartheid regime.

‘The Israeli government tries to cover up its ongoing and brutal occupation of Palestine through public relations campaigns that tell us Israel is a friend to queers everywhere,’ stated Isabel Krupp.

According to Arielle Friedman, ‘Israel’s attempt to pinkwash apartheid includes its funding and support for movies like ‘The Invisible Men’, which fail to portray the realities of Israel as a settler colonial state.’ Friedman stressed that ‘when movies like this – produced by Israeli film makers and supported by the Israeli state – are screened at queer film festivals, it perpetuates the silencing of Palestinian queers who resist colonization as queer minorities on a daily basis.’

The QuAIA action is not the first to call out ‘The Invisible Men’ for collusion with the Israeli state and pinkwashing. At the 2012 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, queer activists called out the Executive Director of the Festival during the introduction to the film, criticizing the festival for engaging in pinkwashing through its partnership with the Israeli Consulate. When confronted by activists at the Festival, ‘The Invisible Men’ director, Yariv Mozer, labeled the West Bank and Gaza as ‘primitive’ and stated that he was ‘helping Palestinian queers’, despite the stated positions of all Palestinian queer organizations – including PQBDS, Al-Qaws, and Aswat – in support of the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including cultural boycott (audio available).

QuAIA also delivered an open letter to VQFF staff and Board of Directors, calling on the Festival to support the global movement for BDS against the state of Israel by endorsing the cultural boycott of Israel for future festivals, via the guidelines proposed by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). The open letter has been endorsed by a number of local anti-racist and Palestinian solidarity organizations, including Trikone (Vancouver), No One Is Illegal (Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories), Salaam (Vancouver), Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (Vancouver), and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (UBC). International organizations, including Palestinian Queers for BDS, Pink Watching Israel, NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, and Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, have also endorsed the letter.

‘VQFF staff have been open so far in allowing us to have space to share our views’, stated Amal Rana. ‘They made space for us to read our open letter during the panel discussion after the screening, for which we’re very thankful, and they’ve agreed to stay in dialogue with us around these issues…
‘We chose not to boycott or protest at these film screenings in order to work in partnership with members of our community in the coming months to build dialogue and solidarity regarding this critical issue…
‘The theme for this festival is lovers and fighters, and we’ve come forward on this issue with a deep love for our community and our collective legacy of fighting injustice.’ With the VQFF coming to a close this weekend, Rana emphasized that ‘this is a queer issue and we’re committed to working with a broad spectrum of people in the community for what may be a long struggle as has been the case in other cities where there are strong BDS campaigns.’

‘We urge the VQFF to come out against Israeli apartheid and pinkwashing by supporting the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel,’ reiterated Emma Ellison. ‘We’re certainly encouraged by the widespread support we’ve already received from local queer communities for this campaign.’

Media Contacts
Amal Rana: 604.764.6257
Isabel Krupp: 604.618.2405
quaia.vancouver@gmail.com

Open letter
Submitted by QuAIA Vancouver to VQFF Executive Director, Drew Dennis, Director of Programming, Amber Dawn, and Board of Directors

If you would like to add your name or community organization to the list of endorsers, please contact: quaia.vancouver@gmail.com

Backgrounder
ISRAELI APARTHEID, BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, AND SANCTIONS (BDS), AND PINKWASHING

For over 60 years, the Israeli occupation and expanding apartheid system have denied the Palestinian people their basic human rights. Palestinians in the West Bank live under a brutal military occupation, which takes the form of illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints, and a system of walls, barriers, and roads accessible solely to Israeli settlers. Palestinians living inside Israel face discriminatory policies; currently there are over 25 laws which specifically target them as non-Jewish and reduce them to second class citizens of Israel. Palestinians in the Diaspora and in UN-administered refugee camps are by default denied their UN-sanctioned right to return to their lands. Finally, over 1.8 million Palestinian in the Gaza Strip are living in an open air prison under an illegal siege, described by many prominent international experts as “slow genocide.”

In 2005, Palestinian civil society organizations called upon people of conscience around the world to engage in boycott, divestment and sanctions – similar to the campaign focusing on apartheid South Africa – to use popular power of economic boycotts, divestment, sanctions advocacy, but also cultural and academic boycott. This call has been taken up by cultural workers and academics around the world, including John Greyson, Barbara Hammer, John Berger, Judith Butler, Alice Walker, Ken Loach, Marilyn Hacker, Adrienne Rich, and Lisa Zuhair Majaj.

In particular, queer activists have found it necessary and urgent to take up the cultural boycott in light of what has become known as Israel’s “pinkwashing” campaign. Israel has launched an aggressive public relations campaign to market itself as an oasis of liberal tolerance in the Middle East. In particular, Israel is working to brand itself as the only gay-friendly country in an otherwise hostile region. By appealing to the global LGBTQ community to support the Israeli state at the expense of the Palestinian people, Israel is actively engaged in the “pinkwashing” of apartheid and occupation.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Palestinian BDS National Committee
Palestinian Queers for BDS
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Committee (Vancouver)
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (Toronto)
Pinkwatching Israel
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel

From
Pink Watching Israel (PWI)
http://www.pinkwatchingisrael.com/portfolio/vancouver-queer-film-fest/
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Hero of Wisconsin – Shaheed Satwant Singh Kaleka

DailyMail.co.uk
Wisconsin Sikh Temple president killed after trying to fight off attacker

Wisconsin, US: One victim was confirmed as the temple’s president, 65-year-old Satwant Singh Kaleka who died as he tried to ‘knife and tackle’ the shooter. The other was Parkash Singh, a priest in his thirties, and a married father-of-two.

Satwant Kaleka died in the temple he helped build.

When a gunman opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek on Sunday, Kaleka tried to attack the shooter outside of the temple, his son said. Wounded in his lower extremities, Kaleka, 65, made it inside, hid with others in a room, and died there.

“It was like a second home to him,” Amardeep Kaleka said of his father’s love for the temple. “He was the kind of person who, if he got a call that a bulb was out at 2 a.m., he’d go over to change it.”

Lakhwinder Singh, a member of the community, said the president “brought everyone together. He just wanted to make a good temple, a good community.”

Parkash Singh seemed to embody the line.

“He was a good guy, a noble soul,” said Manminder Sethi, a dentist who is a member of the temple.

Parkash Singh had been an assistant priest at the temple for six or seven years, said Gurcharan Grewal, president of the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin.

Parkash Singh went back to India in June to bring back his wife and two children – a young son and daughter, both under age 12 – to live here. About eight weeks ago, he returned to Oak Creek.

“She was really shattered. Crying,” temple member Harinder Gill said of Parkash Singh’s wife.

Gill was at home, preparing to go the temple when the shooting happened. Gill said he did not know how Parkash Singh met his wife but added that many marriages in India are arranged.

Reunited with his family, the quiet priest was about to move from the temple to a new apartment with his wife and children. A priest may only live in the temple alone, not with family, said Gill.

Parkash Singh worked daily in the temple, said Gill, who called him “a low-key guy, and very religious. He would always come to help. When we needed anything, he was always there.”

Gill also recalled that Parkash Singh expressed concern about his age. He was nearing 40.

“He had three brothers in India, and the brothers died before crossing 40,” said Gill. “He was kind of concerned.”

“He was a real nice, quiet person. A gentleman. Quiet. Peace-loving,” Grewal said.

For Suveg Singh Khattra, 84, the Sikh temple was a place for worship and fellowship.

A native of the Punjab region of India, Khattra moved to America in 2004 to live with his son.

“He loved to come to the temple and talk to people. He speaks only Punjab. He’s a nice father,” said Baljander Singh Khattra, a taxi driver.

The son drove the father to the temple most days but on Sundays the assignment fell to the older man’s daughter-in-law, Kulwant Kaur.

On Sunday, Kaur was helping other women prepare meals at the temple and hid in a pantry after gunshots rang out. When police later escorted her to safety, she said she saw her father-in-law.

“When they brought her out, she saw my father on the floor with blood coming from his head,” said Baljander Singh Khattra.

“I’m worried about him. The way she saw it, she believes he’s dead,” he added.

As he waited to learn his father’s fate, Baljander Singh Khattra’s thoughts turned to the shooter.

“I don’t know what that person thinks,” he said, adding, “The Sikh temple is open to anybody.”

Some who had gathered at the bowling alley said they believed one of the victims was woman in her late 30s and the mother of two sons. She was standing and praying in the temple when the gunman opened fire, they said.

One of her sons fainted at the bowling alley shortly before 10 p.m. as authorities were letting family members know the fate of their loved ones, said a man who declined to give his name,

Source
DailyMail.co.uk, Bill Glauber, Georgia Pabst and Ellen Gabler of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

From
http://sikhsangat.org

Support the move to stop hate crimes. Visit the Facebook page of I Pledge Against Hate Crime:
http://www.facebook.com/IPledgeAgainstHateCrime
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‘Why the Reaction Is Different When the Terrorist Is White’ by Conor Friedersdorf

The article below raises important questions about the tragic shooting incident at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple in Wisconsin where the gunman was not a Brown Muslim or a Black American but a White Superamicist.

This is his photo:

Wade Michael Page – The Shooter

And this is the photo of the person who stood up
to the armed gunman, was shot 9 times:

Lt. Brian Murphy – The Hero
..

Article from The Atlantic

Atrocities like the attack on the Sikh congregation in Wisconsin introduce terrifying dissonance into America’s post-9/11 mindset.

Observing that the Sunday attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin hasn’t attracted nearly as much attention as other shooting sprees, including last week’s rampage at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Robert Wright wonders if the disparity is due to the fact that most people who shape discourse in America “can imagine their friends and relatives — and themselves — being at a theater watching a Batman movie,” but can’t imagine themselves or their acquaintances in a Sikh temple. “This isn’t meant as a scathing indictment; it’s only natural to get freaked out by threats in proportion to how threatening they seem to you personally,” Wright says, adding that the press ought to give much more coverage to the incident.

In a provocative essay in The Awl, Jay Caspian Kang goes different places with the same core insight. “Who, when first hearing of the news, didn’t assume the killings were an act of racial hatred? Who didn’t start to piece together the turbans, the brown skin, the epidemic of post-9/11 violence that is under-reported, or at least never has all its incidents connected?” he asked. That narrative “only implicates a small percentage of Americans,” he continued, “the story of the massacre at Oak Creek will be, by definition, exclusionary. It will be ‘tragic’ and ‘unthinkable’ and ‘horrific,’ but it will not force millions of Americans to ask potentially unanswerable questions. It will not animate an angry public.” It will seem different, he adds, to members of the several minority groups “who cannot limit themselves out of the victims of Oak Creek.”

These observations ring largely true to me.

There is, however, another factor that likely explains some of the reticence of some Americans, including professional commentators, to focus very much attention on the Oak Creek massacre.

Their disinclination to grapple with it has less to do with the victims than the gunman. The key factor isn’t that they’re Sikhs; it’s that the apparent homegrown terrorist — a term virtually no one would object to had a murderous Muslim burst into the Sikh temple — was perpetrated by a white guy.

Hold the victims constant and give the perpetrator the last name Mohammed. Does anyone think for a moment that such an attack wouldn’t still be the most discussed story at Fox News and National Review? And at various network news shows and unaffiliated newspapers for that matter?

Instead Wade Michael Page was the gunman.

Attacks like his are disconcerting to some white Americans for a seldom acknowledged reason. Since 9/11, many Americans have conflated terrorism with Muslims; and having done so, they’ve tolerated or supported counterterrorism policies safe in the presumption that people unlike them would bear their brunt. (If Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD sent officers beyond the boundaries of New York City to secretly spy on evangelical Christian students or Israeli students or students who own handguns the national backlash would be swift, brutal, and decisive. The revelation of secret spying on Muslim American students was mostly defended or ignored.)

In the name of counterterrorism, many Americans have given their assent to indefinite detention, the criminalization of gifts to certain charities, the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens, and a sprawling, opaque homeland security bureaucracy; many have also advocated policies like torture or racial profiling that are not presently part of official anti-terror policy.

What if white Americans were as likely as Muslims to be victimized by those policies? What if the sprawling national security bureaucracy we’ve created starts directing attention not just to Muslims and their schools and charities, but to right-wing militias and left-wing environmental groups (or folks falsely accused of being in those groups because they seem like the sort who would be)? There are already dossiers on non-Muslim extremist groups. In a post-9/11 world, Islamic terrorism has nevertheless been the overwhelming priority for law enforcement, and insofar as innocents have suffered, Muslims have been affected far more than any other identifiable group, because the bulk of the paradigm shift in law enforcement hasn’t spread beyond them.

Would that still be true if the next terrorist attack on American soil looks like Oklahoma City? How would President Obama or President Romney wield their unprecedented executive power in the aftermath of such an attack? Who would find that they’d been put on no fly lists? Whose cell phone conversations and email exchanges would be monitored without their ever knowing about it?

It ought to be self-evident that non-Muslims perpetrate terrorist attacks, and that a vanishingly small percentage of Muslims are terrorists, but those two truths aren’t widely appreciated in America. That doesn’t mean they won’t reassert themselves, for terrorist attacks have always been with us; the tactic has never been exclusive to a single ideology for very long; and the power the state marshals against one sort of terrorist is sure to be first to hand when another sort strikes.

Anxiety over this possibility was evident early in President Obama’s term, when a Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism was roundly denounced by conservative bloggers, who know as well as anyone that you don’t want to wind up in a class of people whose rights are determined by the Office of Legal Counsel. Spencer Ackerman just did a followup with that report’s author. Whatever you think of the document, its warning against the possibility of a disgruntled military veteran perpetrating right-wing extremist violence seems vindicated by initial reports from Wisconsin.

Quoth that most famous scene from A Man for All Seasons:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
Having flattened so many laws (and a good many innocents) in pursuit of the terrorist, the American majority is naturally loath to focus its attention on a terrorist who looks, talks, and dresses as they do. It is particularly uncomfortable for those in the country who feel most reflexively safe when “an American” is beside them on a plane, instead of a bearded man with a turban. Watching Oak Creek, that subset of Americans was put in a position to realize that a day prior they’d have identified with the terrorist more than his victims.

And so they quickly looked away.
..

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

From
The Atlantic
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‘The Clowns of Blasphemy’ by Fauzia Rafique

Dedicated to the unidentified mentally challenged man accused of desecrating the Quran who was taken from Chanighot police station, tortured and burnt alive by a mob of 1500-2000 religious zealots in Bahawalpur, July 3-4, 2012.

A constant clown of blasphemy
hangs over our heads
conducting this one-act
medieval play. Two three scenes
and a thousand different ways
to slaughter
men
and women
for insulting
their projection
of this entity,
the divinity,
whose man-made aura is then used
to assure
the smooth operation
of the nearest multinational
owned by the authors, directors, producers
and actors
of the Clowns of Blasphemy.
—— A one-act play
—— Boasting a blood-letting theme

Prestigious production
casting heathens
and kafirs, women
and witches, bombers
and terrorists
using real ammunition
emotions and blood, real-life deaths
announcements, pronouncements
bullying and threats. Un
-dying applause
from stunned
-into-submission
audiences. Firearms, rockets
rocks and ropes
expert skinning
hanging by the poles
klashnikov submissions
summary executions
burning with relish humans, books
music and songs
to protect the owners, holders, movers
and shakers
of the Clowns of Blasphemy.
—— A one-act play
—— Weaving a violent dream

Interacting with audiences
it fans the hysteria
to feed the hungry
wild fires
of our worldly
ambitions on the self-righteous
path to secure
for our leaders brand
new riches, collateral
damaging milli-
-ons of civi-
-llians
caught in fireworks
crossfires, revenge fires, suicide-fires
friendly-fires. With 560
army bases
on different
foreign lands, enacting
in its glory
the mafioso cultures of
the red-blood-handed
brown, yellow, black,
white investors of the Clowns of Blasphemy
—— A one-act play
—— Donning a fascist regime
..

Now published in

Holier-Than-Life-Cover
.
Buy it here
Gumroad
Amazon
Smashwords

.

More
Holier Than Life
Fauzia’s Web Page
facebook.com/fauzia.zohra.rafique
@RafiqueFauzia
Update: June 2013
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Stop Violence in the name of religion: Signature Campaign – Karachi April 14, 2012‏

Citizens for Democracy (CFD) is responding to the call for another public signature campaign, and a performance, from the citizens of Karachi.

The theme
‘Live and let Live: Stop violence in the name of religion’
Location
in front of Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim/opp. Park Towers, Clifton, Karachi
Date
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Program schedule
Signature Campaign: 12pm – 6pm
Mural Drawing: 4pm – 5pm
Performance by Tehrik-e-Niswan (“Hum Rokaen Gay”): 5pm – 6pm

You are requested to please respond to this call, join us, invite friends and help spread the word.

Facebook Event Page
https://www.facebook.com/events/217777031655890/

Those who can’t attend can sign the petition here
http://www.change.org/petitions/prime-minister-of-pakistan-live-and-let-live-stop-violence-in-the-name-of-religion
..

Letter Text

April 14, 2012
To: Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani
Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Ch. Nisar Ali Khan
Dear Sirs,
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah told the nation in his speech to the Constituent Assembly on Aug 11, 1947 that “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed –that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Sadly, this nation is today witnessing calls to demolish places of worships, killings and abduction in the name of religion, abductions and forced conversions (particularly of the Hindu community in Sindh) and a flood of hate mongering activities.

We urge you to intervene and stop the killing of Pakistan’s religious communities, specifically target killings those belonging to the Sunni (Barelvi), Shia (including Hazara) and Ahmadi communities who are facing a virtual genocide simply for following their religious beliefs and practices.

The attacks on the 12 Rabiul Awal processions cities around Pakistan are evidence of the menace of bigotry and intolerance, as are the target killings of Shias and Ahmadis. The government must act with all its might to put a stop to this. This needs to be done NOW.

1. We strongly condemn these threats of violence and urge the establishment of a code of ethics across the board that prohibits any religious or political party supporting those who victimize others.
2. The Government must ensure that the banned terrorist organizations are not able to operate, spread hatred and harm or threaten peaceful citizens.
3. The Government, both at the Federal and Provincial levels, must take immediate action against violence, threats and intimidation, especially those in the name of religion.
4. There is urgent need to institute a witness protection plan; the police must be empowered, enabled and de-politicized in order to act against those who violate basic human rights and engage in criminal acts in Pakistan.
5. The government must employ the full force of the law to ensure that no one attacks or threatens members of any community simply for following their religious beliefs and practices.

We hope that the government and all political parties will wake up to the growing evil of intolerance and bigotry that is fast turning into a monster and act up before it eats up the very foundations of our society.
..

Background
Our friends and fellow Pakistani citizens initiated online petitions and wrote to the relevant authorities to protest the hate campaign and violence against Ahmadis specially by members of the so-called Difa-e-Pakistan Council, target-killing of Shias and other acts of violence in the name of religion.

Incidents where people are stopped, identified and killed for their religious beliefs are increasing in Pakistan, the only country where it’s a crime for Ahmadis to practice their religion. Forced conversions, attacks on Christian churches and false cases under blasphemy laws (including against Muslims of various sects) are becoming more and more common. The space for free practice of religion and civil public discourse is shrinking.

It is high time for Pakistanis to unite and raise collective voice against these trends before it’s too late. We must act NOW! We need to follow up the letter campaigns with a more visible public action. We need to make concrete, consistent and focused attempts for our survival, and consolidate the struggle to take our country back. Every little step counts, every effort will bring us together and will provide likeminded peoples an opportunity to unite.

Blog: www.citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com
Twitter @cfdpk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cfd.pakistan
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‘What needs to be said – Was gesagt werden muss’ by Gunter Grass

Uddari protests Israel’s ban on Grass for writing a poem.


Photo from http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Nobel Laureate Gunter Grass has been banned by Israel for his new poem on Israel’s nuclear capability and the threat of a pre-emptive strike against Iran. Grass is facing severe criticism from the Israeli state and its supporters around the World. Following is the original German text of the poem with an instant English conversion by Google translation app, and a second translation by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher.

More about the ban

First version
What needs to be said
Gunter Grass

Why I am silent, silent about too long,
what is obvious and in simulations
was practiced, at the end as survivors,
we are at best footnotes.

It is alleged that on the first strike
of the enslaved from bullies
and to organized guided cheers
could destroy Iranian people,
because in the sphere of building
a nuclear bomb is suspected.

But why do I say to myself,
that other country mentioned by name
in the years since – though secret –
a growing nuclear capabilities available
but out of control, because no test
is available?

The general concealment of this fact,
which my silence subordinate,
I find incriminating lies
and coercion, the penalty is in prospect,
if he is ignored;
the verdict of “antisemitism” is familiar.

But now, because in my country,
that of innate crimes
that are without comparison,
sought time to time and will be taken to task,
in turn, and purely commercial basis, even if
declared with nimble lip as reparation,
another U-boat to Israel
delivered should be, whose specialty
is all-destroying warheads
to be able to steer to where the existence
of a single atomic bomb is unproven,
but wants to be a fear of evidentiary value,
I say what needs to be said.

But why I kept quiet until now?
As I said, my background,
which is never subject to tilgendem blemish,
forbade this fact as a definite truth
to the land of Israel, whom I am connected
and want to stay, be expected.

Why do I say now only:
aged and last ink
the nuclear-armed Israel is endangering
the already fragile world peace?
Because it must be said,
what could already be tomorrow’s too late
– in part because we – as a German burden enough
could be suppliers of a crime are
the predictable, which is why our complicity
by any of the usual excuses
would be to pay off.

And admittedly, I am silent no more,
because I was the hypocrisy of the West
‘m tired, is also hoped
it might be a lot rid of silence,
the cause of the apparent danger
call to renounce violence and
are also sure
that an unfettered and permanent control
of Israel’s nuclear potential
and the Iranian nuclear facilities
by an international authority
of the governments of both countries will be allowed.

Only then is all, the Israelis and Palestinians,
more than that, all the people in this
region occupied by the delusional
enemies living cheek by jowl,
and ultimately to help us.

Translated by Google Translate
..

Original text
Was gesagt werden muss

Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.

Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren – wenn auch geheimgehalten –
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?

Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt “Antisemitismus” ist geläufig.

Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.

Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir – als Deutsche belastet genug –
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.

Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.

From
http://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/gedicht-zum-konflikt-zwischen-israel-und-iran-was-gesagt-werden-muss-1.1325809
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Second Version
What Must be Said
Gunter Grass

Why did I remain silent, silent so long,
about something so clear we used
in war games, where, as survivors,
we are just the footnotes?

That is the claimed right to the formal preventive aggression
which could erase the Iranian people
dominated by a bouncer and moved to an organized jubilation,
because in the area of his competence there is
the construction of the atomic bomb.

And then why do I avoid myself
to call the other country with its name,
where since years — even if secretly covered –
there is an increasing nuclear power,
without control, because unreachable
by every inspection?

I feel the everybody silence on this state of affairs,
which my silence is slave to,
as an oppressive lie and an inhibition that presents punishment
we don’t pay attention to;
the verdict “anti-Semitism” is common.

Now, since my country,
from time to time touched by unique and exclusive crimes,
obliged to justify itself,
again for pure business aims – even if
with fast tongue we call it “reparation” –
should deliver another submarine to Israel,
with the specialty of addressing
annihilating warheads where the
existence of one atomic bomb is not proved
but it wants evidence as a scarecrow,
I say what must be said.

Why did I stay silent until now?
Because the thought about my origin,
burdened by an unclearing stain,
had avoiding to wait this fact
like a truth declared by the State of Israel
that I want to be connected to.

Why did I say it only now,
old and with the last ink:
the nuclear power of Israel
threat the world peace?
Because it must be said
what tomorrow will be too late;
Because – as Germans and with
enough faults on the back –
we might also become deliverers of a predictable
crime, and no excuse would erase our complicity.

And I admit: I won’t be silent
because I had enough of the Western hypocrisy;
Because I wish that many will want
to get rid of the silence,
exhorting the cause of a recognizable
risk to the abdication, asking that a free and permanent control
of the Israel atomic power
and the Iran nuclear bases
will be made by both the governments
with an international supervision.

Only in this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and everybody,
all people living hostile face to face in that
country occupied by the craziness,
will have a way out,
so us too.

Translation by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher
..

View poem on YouTube


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Muslim Woman Killed in California

A woman was beaten to death in California in the style of vigilante-ism of religious fanatics working in Pakistan. Here in North America, divinity changes into racism nurtured over centuries by the White Supremacists. This killing, the murder of Trayvon Martin, and other hate crimes against Native peoples, gays and people of colour, are getting a boost with the US ‘anti-terror’ campaign.

About this particular instance, Uddari was advised by our reader ‘limbic’ via comments, that it may be an honour killing by the woman’s family instead. Here’s a link they provided containing a detailed report: salon.com/2012/04/07/ in addition to a few more links that can be seen in the Comments section of this post. Many thanks, ‘limbic’.

Muslim woman from Michigan beaten to death in California home

An Iraqi-American woman who recently lived in Michigan was found beaten to death at her home near San Diego in what might possibly be a hate crime. A note calling her a terrorist and saying she should go back to her country was left next to her body, according to family members.

The death on Saturday of Shaima Alawadi, 32, after three days in the hospital has prompted an intense outpouring of anxiety and outrage from some, especially among Arab-Americans and on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Some drew comparisons with the killing of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen shot dead last month in Florida.

“I’m really disturbed,” Suehaila Amen, president of the Lebanese-American Heritage Club in Dearborn, told the Free Press. “It’s quite frightening.”

Police told the San Diego Union-Tribune they are investigating her death in El Cajon, near San Diego, as a homicide.

“A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that,” Lt. Mark Coit of El Cajon police told the Union-Tribune. “We don’t want to focus on only one issue and miss something else.”

Alawadi, a mother of five born in Iraq, was found by her 17-year-old daughter on Wednesday.

“I found her on the floor… in her own blood with a letter next to hear head saying go back to your country you terrorist,” Fatima Al Himidi, told 10News, a TV station serving the San Diego area.

The woman and her husband were born in Iraq, moved to the U.S. in the 1990s, and recently lived in Michigan, according to an Associated Press report that cited the Union-Tribune. The victim’s husband had previously worked as contractors to help the U.S. Army train U.S. soldiers going to the Middle East.

Shaima wore a hijab, an Islamic headscarf. She had received a similar threatening note earlier, but ignored it, assuming it was a harmless joke, her daughter said.

“A week ago they left a letter saying this is our country not yours you terrorist, and so my mom ignored that thinking it was just kids playing a prank,” she told the TV station. “But the day they hit her, they left another note again, and it said the same thing.”

The city of El Cajon has a growing Arab-American population. Last night in Arab-American communities, “everybody was talking about” the death of Alawadi, Amen said.

At 33, Amen is roughly the same age as Alawadi and also wears a hijab.

“This is something that’s really scary,” Amen said. “For a woman like myself who wears a hijab, you’re an open target. You’re always looking over your shoulder because of how you’re dressed and because someone might have skewed perceptions of the community.”

On social media sites, people expressed concern she was killed because of her ethnicity and religion. Some compared her to Martin, the African-American teenager killed in Florida who was wearing a hoodie. They say that both were minorities killed, one for a hoodie, the other for a hijab.

A Facebook page was created Saturday called: “One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi.” Hijabis is a term sometimes used by Muslims for women who wear hijabs. The Facebook page reads: “She could be your daughter, your sister, your friend. We cannot let the children in this country grow up in a world so full of hatred that a woman wearing a head scarf is afraid for her life, that a black kid wearing a hoodie is afraid for his life… We are all Shaima. We need a Million Hijab March.”

On the Facebook page, the words “this oufit doesn’t say ‘kill me’ on the label” is on a photo of a woman wearing a hijab.

Shaima’s death drew a response from a range of people, including Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, with the Orthodox Jewish group Chabad.

He wrote on Twitter this morning: “Outrageous that this murder happened in the USA! May Shaima Alawadis murderer be found & brought to justice.”

Paul Rieckhoff, the CEO of Iraq & Afghan Vets of America, wrote on Twitter: “As an Iraq vet, and as an American, I am beyond outraged by Shaima’s death. This could have been so many of my friends.”

Amen noted that the family of the woman had helped the U.S. Army.

“How much more American can you get than to serve the country with pride and honor,” Amen said.

“Shaima Al-Awadi’s murder, like Trayvon Martin’s, was a senseless murder based upon racial animus,” said Dawud Walid, an African-American Muslim leader from Detroit who is executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We must come together as a society to have frank discussions about the toxic rhetorical environment which we currently live in that leads to such wanton violence.”

The daughter of the mother told the TV station in San Diego:

“She’s such an innocent woman. Why? Why did you do that?…We’re not the terrorist. You are.” Contact Niraj Warikoo: nwarikoo@freepress.com or 313-223-4792

http://www.freep.com/article/20120325/NEWS06/120325007/Muslim-woman-with-Michigan-ties-beaten-to-death-in-California
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