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‘Europe faces a huge challenge in dealing with its Muslim citizens’

I talked to Akbar S. Ahmed  about the perception of Islam and Muslims in the West

 

MannequinsMannequins dressed in brightly coloured headscarves at a shop in Cite, France

Raza Rumi: With the rise of ISIS, a global debate has ensued about Islam and its followers. ISIS adherents term their acts in sync with Sharia. What are your views on ISIS and its ideology?

Akbar S. Ahmed: Let me make some generalizations here based in research and reflection. ISIS can only be understood in the context of the collapse of relations between tribes and central governments and the implosion of tribal society. I go into this process in detail in my book The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a War on Tribal Islam in which I examine 40 case studies in detail across the Muslim world. In Pakistan we have seen something like ISIS with the emergence of the TTP, in West Africa with Boko Haram and Al Shabab in East Africa. Muslim tribes typically live by a code of behavior that emphasizes honor, hospitality, courage and especially revenge. This code has provided a kind of stability for centuries despite the fact that certain aspects of it such as taking revenge are against Islam. Yet after independence these tribes were integrated into modern states and the relationship between them and central governments has often been tumultuous. Today, in a trend seen especially since 9/11, Muslim tribal society is in chaos and the code of revenge especially is completely out of control. Support for ISIS comes from tribal groups in both Syria and Iraq who have been oppressed both by central governments in Damascus and Baghdad. There is nothing Islamic about what they are doing, but their actions can be explained through the mutation of the code of revenge. When they kill western hostages, for example, they say explicitly this is to take revenge for airstrikes. Similarly, the TTP has taken similar action against Pakistani soldiers in revenge, they say, for drone strikes. There has been simply too much suffering in these societies as ordinary people are confronted with airstrikes, drones, suicide bombers, and tribal feuds. In order to remedy the situation and bring stability and peace, we must all have a clear idea what is going wrong. We must not confuse the minority of militants with the larger tribal society from which they come—as has too frequently been done. We must work toward a situation where the tribal people of Muslim countries feel they are treated as full citizens of the state with respect for their human rights and opportunities for economic development. It is only then that the violent forces in these societies will be effectively checked.

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Match fixing: shameful and unacceptable

The News of the World exposes cricket match-fixing scandal

The match-fixing allegations are not new for Pakistani cricketers. In the past, such allegations have been proved within the country. The recent scandal with circumstantial evidence broke out by a British tabloid is simply mind-boggling and shameful. We hope that a fair inquiry will remove the mist from the narrative presented by the media. But a thorough inquiry must take place and all the recommendations should be implemented.

Even if there is a grain of truth in the allegations against 7 members of the the team including Mohammad Amir whose bowling was ironically praised in the ongoing test match, it is a matter of serious concern and brings shame to all Pakistanis.

That such an incident happens at the world stage when Pakistan is struggling to recover from a major natural disaster and seeking international assistance has ramifications for the country and its people.

What is wrong with us? Is it that bad? The absence of rule of law and flouting of ethical standards in every sphere seems to be our fate?

Perhaps, another conspiracy – as I just heard a few people on the television. No. We must admit that we are sliding down and we need to face our grim realities and do something about it.

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August 29th, 2010|Pakistan, Sport|6 Comments

Sir Salman Rushdie’s fatwa against freedom of expression

BY SHAJAHAN MADAMPAT

SIR Salman Rushdie, that beloved symbol of freedom of expression, has now turned Khomeini, so to speak, exposing, in an ironic twist of tale, the hypocrisy and double standards that marked the entire liberal case for unqualified and unrestrained freedom of representation.

The man, in whose defence the world’s intelligentsia mounted an intellectual blitzkrieg against the alleged medievalism of the Muslim masses, has threatened to sue the publishers of a book about him by a former police officer, Ron Evans. In his forthcoming book, On Her Majesty’s Service: My Incredible Life in the World’s Most Dangerous Close Protection Squad, Evans dares to paint a rather unflattering portrait of the writer, whose unflattering ways stirred up controversies ever since he began to write. Rushdie alleges that the book “destroys his character” and “presents wholly made up incidents as facts.” […]

August 17th, 2008|Islam, Islamophobia|4 Comments