Muslim-Baiting to Muslim Hating

At least five people are dead, including a dedicated US diplomat who had risked his life during the Libyan revolution to stand with the people of Libya against the tyranny of Qaddafi. These people certainly did not deserve to die especially since they had nothing to do with the film produced by a producer whose real identity is still not fully clear.

Let us examine our own actions first. A clip of this movie (Innocence of Muslims) is posted on YouTube. The Egyptian media start talking about it. A group of Muslims then attacks the US embassy in Cairo and another group attacks the US consulate in Benghazi. The second group ends up killing four people, including the very ambassador who had fought alongside them during the revolution. Does this meet any criteria of Islamic sense of justice or Islamic mores on political alliances? Of course it does not?

The shariah is clear: one cannot punish randomly for wrongs committed by specific people. Thus, if an American makes a film about Islam and insults the prophet, it does not make every American a suspect and a criminal. The diplomatic missions of all countries within Islamic nations are places of Aman, places that need to be protected at all costs. Attacking them, therefore, is not only wrong under international law but also immoral in terms of Islamic rules of Aman and protection provided under national and international treaties.

So, absolutely, without a doubt, all attacks on US embassies in wake of this new scandalous attack on Islam are haram, forbidden, and immoral.

The movie, of course, is the cause of this series of tragic events. The movie falls into a specific genre that happens to be the main concept in my forthcoming book: poetics of incitement. This kind of poetics, which has its attendant politics, involves picking up topics most sensitive to practicing Muslims and then rendering them in one or the other art form.In all cases the producers of these texts always claim that their purpose was to challenge Islam and Muslims to rethink their practices and that they have the artistic license to do so.

Now, of course, there is another brand of racist opportunists who abuse this freedom of expression and end up producing works with no artistic merit but with a huge potential to enrage common Muslims. The cause of this rage, thus, offers itself as a proof of what is to come. Or in other words, such stupid movies and books claim that by attacking Muslims where it hurts the most they will, somehow, be able to smoke out the most intolerant practitioners of Islam. And when these intolerant Muslims perform the unspeakable acts of burning building and killing innocent foreigners, the actions are then offered as a proof of Muslim atavistic nature and inherent intolerance. The same logic is being applied by at least one person involved in the production of this tasteless piece of ordure.

Mr. Steve Klein was deeply involved in the production of this film. That his involvement in this production is not free of malice and bigotry is painfully obvious. This self-proclaimed warrior goes around US mosques looking for the lurking Islamic terrorists and finds it his patriotic duty to do so. That this kind of private crusade has been allowed to continue in today’s America is what we should be protesting about. Would he been able to do this kind of surveillance and offer his silly proclamations against any other ethnic or regional group in the United States. Somehow, it is believed, the tragedy of September 11 has given him the right to go on a perpetual witch hunt against Muslims in America. And, let us not forget, he is not the only one: many a GOP lawmakers have made it central to their campaigns to scapegoat American Muslims just to “secure” their base and get a few votes.

Another sad pathetic participant in this sad attempt at self-promotion is Pastor Jones, famous for public burnings of the Qur’an. He was proud to show the video clip of this so-called movie to his parishioners. So, what do these people get out of these actions: to prove that Muslims are irrational and dangerous? But you are likely to enrage even some regular Muslims if you threaten to burn their book, especially since you cannot force them to see your act from the perspective of your own cultural and religious sensitivities.

So, in the end then, Muslims are inherently evil and prone to violence because they, somehow, refuse to see the world with the eyes of the very people who are attempting to goad them into violence. And when this violence erupts, as it has over a vast global landscape, these minions of hate can then tell us that they were right all along and the proof is on the TV screens. So, basically Muslims must become passive, inert, and docile and must show no rage or anger when the most sacred in their religion is mocked and derided: That seems to be the only  way to prove that Muslims are decent people.

Let us not forget that those who caused this rage are no model Americans either: Pastor Jones in no way represents the American tradition of tolerance and compassion and is rather a great example of sanctimonious bigotry; Mr. Klein is unapologetic vigilante anti-Islam bigot and in no way represents America, and we are not even sure what the elusive Mr. Bacile (or whatever his name is) stands for. These three represent the worst of America and should not be allowed to become symbols of America to the Muslim world.

On the other hand, our mullahs should not incite the kind of rage that makes their followers lose their common sense of decency and justice, especially if they seek revenge on those not even remotely responsible for this sad episode in tasteless ” reformation” of Islam by yet another group of bigots.

So, let us stand firm against all forms of cultural imperialism and bigotry, but let us also condemn the senseless killing of the innocent and especially the attacks on Western embassies. They are in our lands under Aman, under international treaties and to protect them is not only our international responsibility but also our moral obligation.

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The Arab Spring and the Autumn of the Dictators

For the last few weeks, I have been, like so many other people from the Muslim world, engrossed in the uprising in Libya hoping for a quick end to Qaddafi’s dictatorship. As someone who comes form a country where one after the other dictator has conveniently defiled the national constitution in the name of national service, this new tide of popular uprisings against dictators is really heartening.

This new wave of popular revolutions not only dispels the often racilized views of Arabs and Muslims (A FOX news commentator recently declared that Arabs were genetically unfit for democracy) but also sends a strong message to any future adventurers in our part of the world. It seems our people will no longer allow local dictatorial puppets to become the local policemen for the imperial interests.

These new revolutions, of course, should also be a lesson to the generals in Pakistan: it seems they can no longer oust popularly elected governments in the name of national security.

There is an ironic moment in Pervez Musharraf’s (remember him?) post-coup speech where he indicts Nawaz Sharif’s government for “politicizing the armed forces.” The fact that he does that with a straight face exactly at the moment when he himself has suddenly become a politician is akin to work of art in sophistry.

I also like this image of Musharraf in uniform being greeted in Lahore as he canvasses for his so-called referendum: a general playing a political without even a hint of irony.

let us hope that this new wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East will forestall any future military adventurism.

Next, we need to teach some lessons to our over-fed and anachronistic waderas and zamindars. I am sure there time will come soon.

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Thoughts on Libya Bombing

As I write these lines, the international forces have started bombing key installations in Libya. My feelings on this new air war are, as usual, deeply split. Part of me is sad because it is yet another Muslim country being bombed by the US and its allies. But another part of me is hopeful, as these actions were absolutely necessary by the world community to finally stop Gaddafi.

As the implementation of this “No Fly Zone” continues, let us keep reminding ourselves that this, at least, is not a war engineered by the US. This war started because people of Libya rose against their dictator, who, in turn, unleashed the might of his armed forces against his own people. The purpose of these airstrikes is to stop him from eliminating this first serious popular resistance to his autocratic rule.

Though the idea of yet another Muslim nation under attack infuriates and saddens me; I am, at this point, grateful to the world community for their efforts to enable the Libyan people to fight against Gaddafi and his ilk. We should also remember that this aid by the West cannot and should not be mobilized to make any claims on the future of Libya: this aid should not become a claim to Libya’s resources in the future and if it does become that, we will be there to remind the world community.

And we should keep reminding them even now, repeatedly: The Libyan people started this revolution; they asked for your help; you helped them, but you do not and never shall own their future.

I also hope that if the people of other Middle Eastern nations seek global help against their tyrannical governments, the world will be there to support their efforts for democracy. And if the Muslim nations have a problem with the West bombing Libya, then send in your own troops, planes, and your warships to aid this effort. But I think I will see pigs fly before I see Saudi planes–the most modern airforce in the Arab world–on Libyan skies. It is time to rethink our region and to finally express that tyranny of any kind–no matter what underwrites it–has no place in the world.

So, here it is: thank you world for helping the Libyan people and thank you people of Libya for rising against tyranny.

(Read Aljazeera’s Live Blog on Libya)