28 November 2007

Palestinian state in exchange for no longer using 'Nakba'!!

Correct me if I am getting this wrong, but Israel requires Palestinians to forget the Nakba if they want to establish a state!

Address by Tzipi Livni at Annapolis:

‘I believe that the solution of two nation states serves the interests of both sides. Not every celebration of ours is cause for sorrow on the other side, and vice versa. I say to my Palestinian colleagues: Do not bemoan the establishment of the State of Israel; establish your own state, rejoice in its establishment and we will rejoice with you, since for us the establishment of the Palestinian state is not our Nakba, or disaster - provided that upon its establishment the word “Nakba” be deleted from the Arabic lexicon in referring to Israel.’


Nakba ("the catastrophe"): the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948. In 1948 more than 60 percent of the total Palestinian population was expelled. More than 530 Palestinian villages were depopulated and completely destroyed.
To date, Israel has prevented the return of approximately six million Palestinian refugees, who have either been expelled or displaced. Approximately 250,000 internally displaced Palestinian second-class citizens of Israel are prevented from returning to their homes and villages...

27 November 2007

South African Q-Islam

I read this before and was supposed to comment on it and share some of my thoughts- it may be a bit late now but I came across this again and just had to share it, given the discussions I have been having here in the UK, with friends over the internet and even on the radio during the Cii calls...

There is much that I both disagree and agree with, but let’s see what your thoughts are for now…

"South Africa’s Muslims are a weird product of political activism, social consciousness, sectarian madness and extreme ostentatiousness. This is a country which has produced more than its share of Muslim martyrs in the anti-apartheid struggle. But it has also seen some of its members seduced by the anti-Islamic ideology of race superiority.

Today, the struggle for the heart and soul of South African Islam is fierce: it is one between relevancy and dogmatism, engagement or disengagement, clarity or obscurantism. When it comes to Islam, there are so many similarities between what is going on in Britain and South Africa.

But, alas, we do not have the likes of Cassiem Khan and Na’eem Jeenah - two outstanding young(ish) mujahids whose contributions in the field of humanitarian work and the debate over freedom of expression are exemplary."

From Timbuktu to Vienna - via Johannesburg and Istanbul
Published in: Q-News, Issue 367, Page 11, July 2006
[follow link for full article]

20 November 2007

One single secular democratic state


The idea of a single state in Palestine/Israel has apparently been around for decades, but I never considered it as a viable solution to the conflict.

Perhaps it was personal bias- grown up on the idea that the conflict is religious, only religious and nothing else, I always had the idea that the only solution will come from God when he finally decides to strip the oppressors and occupiers and return the area to the rightful owners- the Muslims.

And then more recently, it was perhaps due to my having the opportunity to visit Palestine and witness firsthand the oppression of the Israeli occupation. The treatment of human beings in such an evil way just left me with the thought that no solution, short of driving either of the two peoples totally out of the area (or even into the sea!), was going to ever be possible.

However, the idea of one single secular democratic state seems a bit more plausible to me now. This, after attending a conference held in London on 17 & 18 Nov 2007. Challenging the Boundaries (the conference at SOAS) brought together academics and activists from Palestine, Israel and all over the world to discuss the idea in public, for the first time in London.

The idea is apparently gaining more currency, with the failure of previous political processes to address the conflict's underlying tensions. An alternative to the exclusivist ideologies- that are probably going to perpetuate suffering in the region- is desperately needed – and is on offer from disparate groups in Israel, Palestine and the rest of the world.

Given the current situation, I am ready to engage and promote this discussion. What are your thoughts?

As Allister Sparks (I think..) says, “… if I, as a white South African can live in a secular, non-racial state with a black majority and feel perfectly secure in my own identity, can you not do the same in Israel?”

speakers at the conference:
-Nur Masalha, University of Surrey
-Ghada Karmi, University of Exeter, Author of In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story (2002) and Married to another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine (2007)
-Ilan Pappé, University of Exeter, Author of The Modern Middle East (2005) and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006)
-Joseph Massad, Columbia University, Author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism an the Palestinians (2006) and Desiring Arabs (2007)
-Ali Abunimah, Co-founder of Electronic Intifada, Author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (2006)
-Louise Bethlehem, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Co-editor of South Africa in the Global Imaginary (2005) and Violence and Non-Violence in Africa (2007)
-Northern Ireland: power sharing in a divided society
Kathleen O’Connell, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
-Sumantra Bose, London School of Economics, Author of Kashmir: The Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace (2003) and Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus and Sri Lanka (2007)

16 November 2007

Is London good for Islam?

Well, the topic actually was, 'Is Islam Good for London?'

Having attended, what was purported to be, a debate about Islam in London, I must admit I feel sorry for Londoners. For two reasons:
- it appears that way too many people intensely dislike Muslims.
- Muslims are most likely partly to blame.

I am happy to be a South African Muslim for two reasons:
- I don’t feel any hatred or animosity from people back home, for just being Muslim.
- South Africa has more opportunities and better prospects for ‘spearheading’ Islam in the non-Muslim world.

Before coming to London, the exposure I had from the high profile speakers and quality publications that come out of here, I believed that this is the place wherefrom those in the forefront of taking Islam forward will be coming from. Now, after over a month here, I think that the many good, intelligent and sincere Muslims here should all endeavour to spend some time in South Africa. (I’m going a bit off the topic now- will discuss this again sometime..)

Back to the bourgeoisie debate, attended by the attractive Jemima Khan amongst others, hosted by the Evening Standard (apparently a right-wing publication) and by invite only! That upset me at first, but I was able to get in anyways and at some point make myself heard..

The debate certainly did not conform to what I had understood as proper English manners and debate decorum. Rather, it was a shouting match and personal attacks between the pathetic line-up on the panel. They may not be pathetic individuals, but together, given the topic, the climate and the idiots in the audience; it turned out to be a depressing pathetic panel!

Rod Liddle- my favourite for the night. Just kept saying he didn’t mind Muslims but loathed Islam for various reasons. I think his understanding of Islam, as he explained, was just as screwed up as the idiots who give Islam a bad name. Told him this in my question and then tried steering the discussion back onto the topic and in a more positive, forward thinking direction, but the clowns had a stage and continued to entertain! I respected him for being consistent throughout the night, unlike the guy next to him, Ed Husain.

Ed Husain- an ex-Hizbut Tahrir (HT) guy who has become a famous author, famous in a somewhat similar way to Salman Rushdie- he has identified what certain people want to hear, so he continues to say just that! Extremely inconsistent in his thoughts and opinions, and as Rod Little put it, he may have left HT but is still the idiot that joined them and his intelligence seems to have not increased since his new found liberal popularity.

Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain- he was definitely unfairly targeted. But unfair or not, he clearly has made a few stupid mistakes and said a few stupid things in the past. To give him some credit he tried hard to ward off attacks against his person and still level a fairly decent argument, and together with Rod, the only consistent person on the stage.

Joan Smith- a feminist and atheist. I have met many feminist and atheist in my life. None that annoy me as much as this woman who uses both as titles in a manner that I assume would disappoint many feminists and atheists.

Michael Burleigh- not sure who he or what he does. He was just very boring!

I guess this doesn’t say much about the debate- probably coz the debate was more entertaining than informative. It was more of a show than a productive discussion.

But one thing is clear, at least from the little discussion that did go on, and from the comments from the audience- Islam is here in the UK in full force and is here to stay- and both Muslims and their non-Muslim counterparts need to work together to make sure that things improve going forward- Muslims can’t continue to live in virtual enclaves, and the rest of society here can’t continue to ignore them and pretend that they are not here!

see also:
FreeWriters
'Undesirables' debate
Evening Standard reportback

14 November 2007

the rightly guided car

I couldn’t make up anything funnier, even if I tried! This is the latest from Muslim Capitalists for Muslim Consumerists. The ‘Islamic Car’, as reported by the BBC.

From the era of sweets and chocolates being made unlawful, to bank finance being made lawful, the Muslims of the world once again never seize to entertain.

I can just about overhear the ‘uncles’ in the Mosques once word starts getting around: ‘Ooh, Mashallah (Praise God) this is soo wonderfool.. Islam is going to new heights now, or should I rather say new journeys! Hehe!’

As some citycircler stated:
‘… It appears that Muslims have once again proven their expertise in pointlessly differentiating themselves from the rest of the human race with their designs for an, err, 'Islamic car'.

You can just see an Islamist-run advertising agency positioning the new product:
"The Islamic car is superior and will dominate over all other cars. If you want a fast-track to paradise you must buy the Islamic car, not drive those filthy decadent kuffar cars on their one-way street to the hell-fire.
No need for a Satnav when our in-built Qur'an is the only guide you need. Choose any colour, as long as it's green. No need to follow secular man-made traffic laws any more, Shariah law applies whilst driving.
Women drivers must be accompanied by a close male relative. Should you get killed in an accident you will be considered a martyr. And of course no need for car insurance".

The report mentions there will be a special compartment to store the Qur'an and headscarves. Isn't that what the kuffar call a glove compartment?

So do we need 'the Islamic car' and what features would you include?

05 November 2007

i love south africa?

I write this just a short while after finding out about the tragic death of a family member. The elderly member, grandfather of a few, loved by many, was tragically shot and killed in his home in the early hours of the evening on 31 October. He was a soft and warm man, always with a smile on his face, always with a good word to share.

I must admit that we were not at all extremely close- if anything I met and spoke to him on average twice a year- but it was that twice a year meeting that we had every year of my entire life.

Since I got to London, I have been getting upset by the perceptions of everyone who looks at me with pity when I say that I am from South Africa. ‘It’s a beautiful country’, I say, ‘we are busy rebuilding after years of being damaged by Apartheid!’
So, we have problems. But there are so many positive things too. We need all the help and effort we can get to sort thing out, I say.

And then when I meet fellow South Africans here, I get into the discussion about how we need to remain committed to our roots- the country that made us what we are, that gave us opportunities- the very same opportunities that many others are not able to harness. I explain that even if we are enjoying it here in a foreign country, we need to continue to work to sort our issues out back home. To the Muslims I meet, I have been saying that it is a responsibility placed on us by our religion to work towards the redevelopment and to establish social justice and harmony in the land of our birth.

In some way, I sometimes explain, we, as members of the middle to upper class levels of society, are partly to blame for some of the problems facing the country.
Facts like- South Africa is the most unjust country in the world; South Africa has overtaken Brazil and now has the minority controlling the majority of the resources.
That in South Africa, the religious leadership and the business and community leaders have tacitly propped each other up- by the religious scholars holding firmly onto the reigns of religion and not harshly condemning the capitalistic behaviour of Muslims; and us Capitalist Muslims keeping them on their pedestals in return for this!
Could we have dug our own graves here? Our economics practises may explain the high levels of crime- but what will explain the extreme violence we experience?

I have thought of the past- it must be there in our past somewhere- the results we see today borne out of a past of brutality, the Aids epidemic, injustice, oppression, unfulfilled promises, inadequate solutions, economics inequality, and so much more. Maybe all these ingredients have proved to bare a flavour that our pallet cannot bear.

But while I have been always singing this rhetoric, with the hope that it would help drive change, I have been vocal in speaking out against the brain drain and shouting our responsibilities to our poor and oppressed neighbours!

A close friend, who many of you reading this will know well; a person who has one of the best hearts I have come across- I fought him hard on his decision to leave South Africa and seek a better life somewhere else. I tried to guilt him into agreeing with me that we cannot leave her- that if we do leave it must only be for a short term, on a specific mission, so that we know we are coming back to continue our work in rebuilding this country. But now I am reconsidering.

There are problems here too- And everywhere else in the world as well. But is it hypocritical to perhaps think that I should be committed to rebuilding South Africa, but at the same time take steps to set one foot out of the country? Is it wrong to believe that, while I have hope and optimism for a bright future, I can still try to look at having an ‘exit strategy’? Is the current situation, and its constant deterioration, a justifiable enough excuse for this kind of behaviour?

To summarise, can a person that is committed to giving back to South Africa, that is determined to see positive change and that is concerned and worried about the well-being of all the people there: can this person live out of the country and continue to work towards solving the problems. (As opposed to a person who lives in the country and continues to rape and savage the country economically!)


Your thoughts will be eagerly anticipated: click on SignsOfIntelligentLife to leave a comment!