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Global terrorism — myth and reality

A new report by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an international think tank based in Australia, brings to light some hard data on global terrorism. During November 2015, a series of terror attacks in Beirut, Paris, Nigeria and Mali reignited the debate on the global ‘challenge’ of terrorism. In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, another coalition is being gathered to bomb Syria to eradicate the Daesh or Islamic State (IS). It is unclear if a militaristic response would yield results in Syria, given the complexity and competing interests of Middle Eastern actors, Russia and the West. In fact, the lack of a multilateral approach has only served to benefit the IS in the recent past.

The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report confirms that terrorism, globally, is on the rise. Since 2001, there has been a five-fold rise in terrorism. The year 2014 was deadliest with 14,000 terrorist attacks in 93 countries, leaving 32,000 dead. The number of terror victims was 80 per cent more than in 2013. At the same time, countries that battled 500 or more terrorist attacks have seen a staggering increase by 120 per cent since 2013.

The other startling fact, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, is that Boko Haram, the Nigerian militant group, was the biggest killer in 2014, and not the IS. During the last year, 6,644 deaths attributed to Boko Haram signified an increase of over 300 per cent compared to the deaths occurring in 2013. The IS was the second-most lethal group as it killed 6,073 people. Tactics used by Boko Haram are deadlier as it indiscriminately targets private citizens in its attacks. […]

Islam Needs Reformation from Within

“Would you permit me to teach my children that God is greater, more just, and more merciful than all the (religious) scholars on earth combined? And that His standards are different from the standards of those trading the religion” — Nizar Qabbani, Syrian poet.

Much has been said about the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and its slain cartoonists and their provocative cartoons about Muslims. Satirical representations of the Muslims in Europe do merge with racism and evoke destructive passions. But the barbaric killing of journalists exercising their right of free speech is beyond condemnable. It strikes at the heart of press freedom.

Muslim communities in most Western countries view themselves as besieged collectives. Issues of integration, racism and the colonial baggage resonate each day. But in the past two decades especially with the rise of violent extremism as global phenomena, these complexities have become even more intractable.

By brutally killing staffers of Charlie Hebdo magazine, the violent extremists have offended their faith far more than the perceived blasphemy of the magazine. Theirs is a political ideology — of using terror as a weapon — to avenge a history, to settle grievances and to assert power through violence.

Billions of men and women who practice Islam often have little input in shaping such narratives of hatred. Such violent ideas emanate from the minority schools of thought within Islam, which rationalize the killing of ‘infidels’ and their ‘associates’. This ideology is the same that hounded Salman Rushdie, and killed Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam for a film.

Ironically, the main targets of this ideology have been Muslims themselves. From the mass killings of Hazara Shias in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the ongoing killing spree in Syria and Iraq, it is the Muslims that bear the brunt of this violent mindset.

Dozens of Sufi shrines and hundreds of schools have been blown up in Pakistan by extremists. Most of the 50,000 Pakistanis killed in the last decade were Muslims. And in this day and age this ideology prevents the majority of Pakistanis to access YouTube simply because somewhere, someone lampooned the holy figure of Islam.

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Freedom to broadcast hate

This report by the BBC is extremely insightful. How broadcast media are fanning sectarian passions across Middle East – on all sides. With dubious financiers, power interests, it becomes even more relevant for us in Pakistan.

Listen to the podcast by clicking here 

Comments and views welcome

March 27th, 2014|Middle East|0 Comments

Some sobering lessons

By Raza Rumi:

Adecade after the ghastly attacks on the Twin Towers, the world has not changed. It is business as usual: imperial projects, ‘dangerous’ foes and millions of hapless, voiceless people. 9/11 was a reprehensible act perpetrated by a desperate and rogue network whose ideologues had hijacked a faith and its symbolism long before they started to assert their worldview by force.
While most 9/11 perpetrators belonged to the Middle East and its infamous Holy Kingdom, Pakistan emerged as the epicentre of terror in the global imagination and continues to occupy that exalted position. Its neighbourhood has been ransacked and occupied by the liberators and now the war on terror has turned into a contested, essential Pakistani experience. Nearly a million people in Iraq are dead or missing but never mind. It is time for the West to take stock of what happened due to a relentless pursuit of ambition and greed of an unaccountable, omnipotent war industry. […]

October 16th, 2011|Pakistan, Published in the Express Tribune, Sindh|1 Comment

Revelations of war crimes and moralizing idealism

By Charles Bogle (found here)

The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism, by Ron Suskind. New York: Harper, 2008, 398 pp.

Several months before invading Iraq, President Bush dismissed irrefutable evidence that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction.

By the close of 2003, with no weapons of mass destruction found and the American public beginning to question the rationale for the war, the White House fabricated a letter that “proved” the purported links between Iraq and al Qaeda as well as Colin Powell’s claim before the United Nations that Niger had shipped uranium to Iraq.

So reports the Wall Street Journal’s former senior national affairs writer Ron Suskind in The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism.

Suskind argues that these impeachable offenses are manifestations of America’s loss of its core values and hope for a better future; and that extremism, both in the US and the Mideast had undermined the inability “to walk in the shoes of the ‘other.’” […]

September 15th, 2008|Personal|2 Comments

Hassan Massoudy’s calligraphy: Raza et Rumi

“The gestures of the calligrapher become an open space, welcoming the words of the poet and the imagination of the onlooker”.

Discovered this image of a calligraphic work and about the Iraqi artist Hassan Massoudy at the JTG Art Blog.

The major part of the […]

June 19th, 2008|Arts & Culture, Personal, World Artists|3 Comments

How the Pentagon manipulated the media to promote the Iraq war

David Walsh writes at WSWS

On April 20, the New York Times published a lengthy article by investigative reporter David Barstow detailing the US Defense Department’s extensive and ongoing program of manipulating news coverage of the Iraq war. The article provides a glimpse into the intimate connections between the government, military and mass media and the means by which they have attempted to package and sell a neo-colonial war to the US population.

Barstow writes that the record indicates a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated. Essentially, the US mass media has allowed itself to become little more than a propaganda instrument of American militarism.

According to the April 20 piece, more than 75 retired officers have been coached by government and military officials to spin the news about Iraq or simply lieon countless network and cable channel news programs and talk shows over the course of the past five years or more. Fox News has led the way in presenting these individuals to the public, but NBC, CNN, CBS and ABC have followed suit. […]

April 26th, 2008|human rights, media, Politics|1 Comment