Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Destroying mosques in Africa, murdering bus passengers in Pakistan

ISLAM used to be known among the world's religions for civilisation, tolerance and progress. From Cordoba in the west to Baghdad and further East, the society developed trade routes, irrigation, agriculture, medicine and great architecture. Muslim, Jewish and Christian scholars found a place, to study Classical knowledge, and make a bridge between the ancients and modern society.
If some Western leaders and writers today profess ignorance of this debt, in proclaiming their ill-founded assumptions of superiority, that is their contribution to the world's darkness and intellectual poverty.

That said, not only are some Islamic countries today afflicted with oppressive and reactionary tyrranies, but there is a spreading worldwide malignancy in the name of Islam which, far from evoking a past "Golden Age", is inflicting suffering, destruction and barbarism. In 2001 the world could only look on in horror when the Taliban destroyed 6th century statues of Buddha carved into rock at Bamyan, in central Afghanistan.

This kind of vandalism, spectacular as it was, and symbolic of what was being done to people, had echoes of the dynamiting of minarets and bulldozing of Muslim graves by Serb and Croat nationalist forces in Bosnia. To complete your conquest, destroy the people's past, and consciousness of themselves. It is plainly not unique to Islamicist fanatics. Nor is it in the slightest way progressive, or "anti-imperialist". On the contrary, it can arrive riding with the imperialists.

LIBYA -ultra-conservative Islamists used bombs and a bulldozer to level the tomb of a 15th-century Sufi scholar, Abdel Salam al Asmar, in the town of Zlitan, 100 miles east of Tripoli. They also destroyed thousands of historical books when they burned a library in a nearby mosque to the ground. Rather than interfere, security forces assaulted and arrested people who tried to protest destruction of mosques and shrines in other places, though in some local militias stopped these attacks.
On Sunday, the ruling General National Congress summoned Interior Minister Fawzi Abdel Al, Defense Minister Osama Jweili and several other military and intelligence officers for questioning after the Sufi shrines were attacked Friday and Saturday. General National Congress speaker Muhammed Magarief slammed the desecrations as “disgraceful acts.” Magarief went as far as to suggest that there may have been official collusion in the attacks, saying that those responsible “are unfortunately aligned with some in the Supreme Security Committee (SCC) and ex-revolutionaries.” The security committee is responsible for organizing Libya’s armed forces.
read more here:

MALI As many as half a million refugees may have fled the north of the country after Salafi purists destroyed Sufi shrines in the fabled city of Timbuktu and said they would impose strict Sharia law on the people. In three days at the beginning of July, the members of an Al Qaida offshoot called Ansar Dine which had displaced both government forces and Tuareg separatists, destroyed at least eight Timbuktu mausoleums and several tombs, centuries-old shrines reflecting the local Sufi version of Islam in what is known as the "City of 333 Saints". UNESCO which had earlier put Timbuktu on a list of threatened world heritage sites, said "We consider this action to be a crime against history."
Thousands of people have fled either to the south or across the borders into neighbouring Mauretania and Niger. They say the Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) have forced women to veil, stopped them trading in the market, and forbidden music and television. Some 90 per cent of Mali's people are Muslims, but they say this intolerant and repressive strain comes from outside and is completely alien to them. They have begun organising to fight back, but say they need weapons, whereas the Ansar Dine, despite their supposed rejection of Western ways, are well-armed.

PAKISTAN, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, whose name means "Land of the Pure", was born from partition and bloody conflict, and served as the base for CIA-backed mojahaddin in Afghanistan and later the Taliban. It is suffering the war spilling over, in the shape of US drones which have killed innocent civilians, and in the latest refinement reported, targetted rescue parties.
But not all the violence comes from outside.

In the province of Gilgit-Baltistan, as people prepared to celebrate the festival of Eid al Fitr which ends Ramadan, they found themselves instead with a day of mourning, and of anger, after 25 people were pulled from four buses returning from Rawalpindi, and murdered.

According to an eye witnesses of the horrific incident, on August 16 some buses on way from Rawalpindi to Astore were intercepted at Babusar by about 14 terrorists wearing commando uniforms and carrying walkie-talkies while dozens of their fellow terrorists stood on the nearby hills.
They ordered the passengers to step down and started enquiring about their sect. Those who belonged to Shia sect were taken aside and later shot dead in cold blood.

Four Sunni Muslims were also killed, after they protested and tried to tell the gunmen not to kill innocent Shia Muslims. One Shia man who survived the massacre said he had been saved because Sunni fellow passengers asked to identify Shia refused to help the killers, despite being beaten themselves.
This was the second such incident. In March a Gilgit bound bus was intercepted and 18 Shia passengers were slaughtered by terrorists wearing army uniforms.

The Ulema of Gilgit, Baltistan and from all schools of thought condemned the incident and termed it a heinous crime and declared that terrorists are not Muslim, rather they are anti Muslim and anti-Islam.

Although persecution of minorities is quite common in Pakistan, these organised killings, which have been claimed by a Taliban organisation, stand out, and may have a more than religious significance. Historically linked to Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit was separated from it by the British, who saw the region as strategically important because it borders on China and Afghanistan, and might stand in the path of any Russian advance. They stationed a mercenary force there under British command.

With partition in 1947 the Indian government intended to return Gilgit to Kashmir, but while most of Kashmir has been taken over by India, Gilgit Baltistan is closer to the Pakistan-occupied Azad (supposedly "free") Kashmir. As Shi'ites the people in Gilgit fear that transfer from Pakistan to Azad Kashmir would be stepping from the frying pan into the fire of Sunni domination.

Pakistani human rights groups accuse the country's security agencies of backing Sunni militants and failing to protect the minority groups of the country. "The killings are doubtless the work of those who want to destroy Pakistan, but a failure to nab and punish the killers is also contributing to the same end ... the Taliban (are) nobody's friends and those who created this monster have taken Pakistan down the road to annihilation," said Pakistan's non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a statement, directly holding the Taliban and state agencies responsible for the massacre.

The Taliban, whose militant Wahabbi brand of Islam hailed like much of their material backing, from Saudi Arabia, may wage war on the Gilgit Shi'ites not just from sectarian motoves but to strengthen their power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, what used to be North West Frontier
province. Likewise the armed groups which Pakistan military intelligence has supported in Kashmir, turning what should be an independence strugle into a sectarian jihad, may resent having an autonomous mainly-Shi'ite region in their rear.

Some Pakisatanis see a wider conflict in the background. "It is somehow linked to the 'war on terror' and US policies in the region, especially its policy towards Iran," Sartaj Khan, an editor in Karachi, told DW. "I think the US and Pakistani agencies, with the backing of Saudi Arabia, are arming militant Sunni groups to suppress the Shias in the region to kill any possible support for Iran."

Khan added that the Pakistani agencies had given a "free hand" to militant organizations like the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a Sunni organization believed to be responsible for various attacks on Pakistani Shias in the past, to operate in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Karachi-based Shia activist Syed Ali Mujtaba Zaidi also blamed US policies in the region for the instability in Pakistan's northern areas and the conflict between the Shias and Sunnis. "The US intends to demoralize us, make us feel hopeless and helpless, so that it can continue to play its politics in the region. Its main motive is to counter China and Iran." Zaidi told DW, adding that he believed extremists Sunni groups like the Taliban were working for the US' interests in the region.

Hameed Satti, a development consultant in Islamabad, said Pakistanis had a habit of blaming foreign countries for their problems, and that it was not surprising for him that the massacre of the Shias, which he believed was a result of state policies, was blamed on the US.


To someone waiting to see if they might be pointed out, to be dragged off a bus, and killed, it must seem like a discussion on who is to blame, the master or his dangerous dog - even if the latter is out of control and has persuaded himself that he is killing for God.

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