Monday, June 19, 2006

Pro-regressives masquerading as "progressives"

Tarek Fatah's recent article characterized mainstream Muslims as "fundamentalist Muslim groups draped themselves in 'moderate' garb." (Fatah is a member of the dwindled PMU NA board of directors.)

Lets take a look at where the pro-regressives get published these days:

The Fatah article was published in the Canadian "news"paper The National Post. This happens to be the same paper that recently published neo-con Amir Taheri's lies about Iran. And this is the same newspaper that has earned the dubious distinction of being a repeat ‘worst offender’ in its characterization of Muslims and Islam.

With its frequent use of phrases such as ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘Muslim militants,’ ‘Islamic fundamentalists,’ and similar wordings, the Post was found during the study period to contain more than 230% as many negative references as the average of other media examples, even when the same stories were covered by other newspapers.

From the beginning the Post has had a strongly conservative editorial stance, and has an editorial page featuring the writings of many prominent neo-conservatives and libertarians from the United States and Canada, including Diane Francis, Andrew Coyne, Mark Steyn and David Frum. This stance is typically mocked by those who refer to the paper as the "Fascist Post" or the "Zionist Post". A number of newspaper stands in Toronto holding the National Post for sale have been vandalized with these statements.

Given the kind of regressive politics the Progressive Muslim Union North America advocates, it is not at all surprising that they have taken the neo-cons as their not so strange bedfellows...

The Fatah article, along with the usual nonsense against mainstream Muslim organizations, is a rant against multiculturalism. Amongst other things, he says:

That is not all. If we do not reform multiculturalism to promote integration and civic secular society, we risk creating a fragmented nation, divided into 21st century religious and racial tribes, suspicious of the other and longing for the home we left behind.

It is interesting to note that this is exactly the kind of paranoid slippery slope thinking that characterizes the extreme right - that if there is not a single uniform value system, we're all doomed to becoming divided into racial tribes.

But the Pro-Regressives do not stop at this - Pamela Taylor, chair of the Progressive Muslim Union, in a gushing tribute to Fatah also expressed how the family members of the 17 accused in Canada "were wearing burqas which Tarek (like many of us) positively hates." Taylor claims that Fatah was helping the family... that maybe true... But it is a strange form of help, given his anti-Muslim rants elsewhere. And it is stranger choice of words: "positively hate" regarding the clothing that the family members were wearing.

This is the so-called "Progressive Muslim Union North America" --- their extreme rightward shift, and the use of words such as "hate" should not come as a surprise to any of us who have been following the trajectory of these individuals. But it does look like the neo-cons have found their native informants.

see also a Sunni Sister blog entry titled: Isn't It Funny:

The difference is that the racist “conservative” is a little more open about his / her views. The racist “liberal” talks a lot of talk about lifting everyone up, but it’s an equality and uplifting as defined by him / her / the dominant culture. Why are so many liberals, here and in Europe, wringing their hands over “multiculturalism,” and some now talking as though it can be reversed? Because they don’t realize that our country (the US) is by default and always has been “multicultural.” Even many European countries have had a variety of ethnic, if not racial, groups living in them for centuries.

So when liberals and others start blabbering about “rethinking multiculturalism,” what they’re really doing is betraying their discomfort with the teeming masses saying, “Yes I am!” and with the minorities challenging the way things have always been done, the way history’s always been told, and the way the rest of the world is and has been explained to Joe and Jane America.

Monday, June 12, 2006

tarek fatah at it again...

via drmaxtor

Canadian Muslima blasts Tarek Fatah

Fatah champions his own views
Jun. 10, 2006. 01:00 AM

Editorial, June 7.Let me get this straight. Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress complains when the media make gross generalizations about Muslims, but has no problems making even bigger ones himself. Has Fatah visited every single mosque in Canada, enough to make the sweeping claim that no mosque allows freedom to debate? Imagine if someone had made similar comments about Canada's Jewish or Hindu communities, stating that their temples and synagogues were being overrun by "a fascist cult" of supremacy? It would border on hate. So why should his accusations about the Muslim community be accepted as legitimate discourse?Fatah's words bear the mark of hypocrisy. He regularly uses his weekly television show and position within the community to spread his own political views. He wants Muslims to discuss politics, just not in the one place that he and his fellow secular Muslims have no influence — the mosque. The double standard is laughable. Rather than promoting himself as a champion of the Muslim cause, Fatah and the à-la-carte critics like him, should admit that by trying to project their narrow-minded views on the community, they're no better than the "fascist" imams they claim to detest.

Samrina Wadhera, Toronto

more on fatah here

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Native Informers and the making of the American Empire

A review of "Reading Lolita in Tehran"

A particularly powerful case of such selective memories is now fully evident in an increasing body of mémoire by people from an Islamic background that has over the last half a decade, ever since the commencement of its "War on Terrorism," flooded the US market. This body of literature, perhaps best represented by Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003), ordinarily points to legitimate concerns about the plight of Muslim women in the Islamic world and yet put that predicament squarely at the service of the US ideological psy-op, militarily stipulated in the US global warmongering. As President Bush has repeatedly indicated, the US is now engaged in a prolonged and open-ended war with terrorism. This terrorism has an ostensibly "Islamic" disposition and provenance. "Islam" in this particular reading is vile, violent, and above all abusive of women--and thus fighting against Islamic terrorism, ipso facto, is also to save Muslim women from the evil of their men. "White men saving brown women from brown men," as the distinguished postcolonial feminist Gayatri Spivak puts it in her seminal essay, "Can the Subaltern Speak?"

The publication of Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran coincided with the most belligerent period in the recent US history, the global flexing of its military muscles, and as such the text has assumed a proverbial significance in the manner in which native informers turned comprador intellectuals serve a crucial function in facilitating public consent to imperial hubris. With one strike, Azar Nafisi has achieved three simultaneous objectives: (1) systematically and unfailingly denigrating an entire culture of revolutionary resistance to a history of savage colonialism; (2) doing so by blatantly advancing the presumed cultural foregrounding of a predatory empire; and (3) while at the very same time catering to the most retrograde and reactionary forces within the United States, waging an all out war against a pride of place by various immigrant communities and racialised minorities seeking curricular recognition on university campuses and in the American society at large.

ON THE SURFACE, Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran has a very simple plot. A female professor of English literature at an Iranian university, having been born to a privileged family and thus educated in Europe and the United States, is finally fed up with the atrocious limitations of an Islamic republic, resigns her post, goes home, collects seven of her brightest female students and they get together and read some of the masterpieces of "Western literature," while connecting the characters and incidents of the novels they thus read to their daily predicaments in an ungodly Islamic republic. The plot, factual or manufactured or a combination of both, provides an occasion for the narrator to give a sweeping condemnation of not just the Islamic revolution but with it in fact the entire nation, the poor and the disenfranchised, that has given rise to it--for which she has absolutely nothing but visceral contempt. To connect this simple plot and its extended services to the US imperial operations at home and abroad, we need a larger theoretical frame of reference in comparative literary studies.
The entire review is a must read - click here to read it!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Muqtedar Khan and Shi'a Muslims

Muqtedar Khan is a former advisory board member of the Progressive Muslim Union North America, to his credit, Khan resigned from the PMU NA after raising the issue of "athiest Muslims" and "alcohol consumption." Read his resignation letter here.

Khan has recently earned the ire of Shi'a Muslims after he was invited to speak at a conference of the controversial Shi'a Muslim group called UMAA. The leadership of this group has, in the past, allowed the likes of Wolfowitz to speak at their conference, and there was also some discussion about inviting Daniel Pipes to this year's conference. Stephen Schwartz the strange "leftist" turned neo-con, turned "sufi" had also, in the past, endorsed UMAA's conferences. Each of UMAA's conferences has resulted in sharp controversy in the Shia Muslim community. And this year was no exception.

The source of this year's controversy was Muqtedar Khan's February 13th, 2005 article in which he compared Ayatullah Sistani with Saddam Hussein, and stated that:

"The US-led invasion of Iraq may have replaced an overt and brutal dictatorship by Saddam Hussein with a covert and subtle dictatorship buy the Marja-e-Taqleed, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani—the highest-ranking Shiite authority on the planet."

Many Shia Muslim did not appreciate this grave insult of their scholar, especially the comparison that Khan drew with the tyrant Saddam Hussein. Khan was confronted at the conference, and on on-line Shia forums. Click here for a blog entry for a summary of the concerns raised.

While the issues raised specific to Ayatullah Sistani are important, Muqtedar Khan's politics has been very inconsistent - at times calling for American Muslims to support United States imperialist military actions because of some kind of a "divine commitment" towards the United States:

“Once the war is declared, make no mistake Mr. Saddam Hussain and Mr. Bin Laden, We are with America. We will fight with America and we will fight for America. We have a covenant with this nation, we see it as a divine commitment and we will not disobey the Quran (9:4).”

Click here to read a wide ranging critique of Muqtedar Khan's strange politics and statements.