Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Declaration of Cold War: Rand Report.

A brand new Rand Report is out on the stands - that is nothing more (or less) than a formal declaration of Cold War on Islam.

The specifics outlined in this report has already taken shape in Britain with the so-called Radical Middle Way group that presents itself as a "moderate Muslim" outfit, but, in reality, is funded by the extremist government of Blair and his Home office. For more on how the moderates are, in reality, extremists - click here.

The Rand Report points out that the USA support and financing of the "moderate" (i.e. extremists) groups should be covert, and not too "obvious." It is thus, the responsibility of Muslims to investigate the source of funding and support of Muslims groups in North America, Europe, Australia, and also in the Muslim majority areas. Those groups and/or individuals who are being funded and/or otherwise supported by the extremist US and/or British governments and/or their affiliated extremist "think tanks" should be boycotted, and questioned publicly as to why they are collaborating in this extremist anti-Islam project?!

Partners in this network-building effort should be those who share key dimensions of democratic culture, the study says. The report recommends targeting five groups as potential building blocks for networks: liberal and secular Muslim academics and intellectuals; young moderate religious scholars; community activists; women's groups engaged in gender equality campaigns; and moderate journalists and scholars.

As America learned during the Cold War, moderate groups can lose credibility – and therefore, effectiveness – if U.S. support is too obvious. Effective tactics that worked during the Cold War include having the groups led by credible individuals and having the United States maintain some distance from the organisations it supports.

“This was done by not micro-managing the groups, but by giving them enough autonomy,” Rabasa said. “As long as certain guidelines were met, they were free to pursue their own activities.”

To help start this initiative, the report recommends working toward an international conference modeled in the Cold War-era Congress of Cultural Freedom, and then developing a standing organisation to combat radical Islamism.

more here

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Liberalizing the Qur'an: The Case of Laleh Bakhtiar

I have to say I am dissapointed in Laleh Bakhtiar that she is allowing herself to be used in this way - to make it appear as if she is some ground breaking woman of Islam --- same as some of the progressivist Moslems claimed in their drive towards "reform Islam." I am dissapointed because I have a number of Laleh Bakhtiar's translations of Islamic books (Farsi to English translation) and have found them very useful, and carefully translated.

But, in the case of this "new translation" of the Qur'an by Bakhtiar, there are way too many problems, not the least the kind of coverage she is getting from the American corporate media.

Why is it that when A’isha Bewley, who actually speaks Arabic, and is a known and respected translator of classical texts, published a translation of the Qur’an the NYT didn’t profile her? Heck, most Muslims didn’t even know she’d done this, and you have some people today talking about “the first translation by a woman” wrt Bakhtiar (and prior to Bewley’s, there was at least one other version that was done by an Egyptian woman). Is it because Bewley doesn’t fit the image of what Cheryl Benard and Rand told us “friendly” Muslims look like? Scoff all you like. I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories, but more and more coverage of Islam and Muslims seems to take a page from the infamous Rand report. And we go along with it.

Or is it because Bewley didn’t set out with the mindset that she was going to change what the Qur’an meant to English readers or not do it?

“I decided it either has to have a different meaning, or I can’t keep translating.”

What Bakhtiar is doing, then, is a grave, grave disservice to those people who pick up her version. She is doing what liberal Muslims accuse the ‘ulema of having done for 1400 years. It’s not a translation if she decides what the meaning is based on what she wants. It’s wishful thinking. Alhamdulillah, it doesn’t change the meaning of the Qur’an… but saying that English speakers are alienated by Arabic names, deciding yourself to do tafsir, even though you don’t really know Arabic and you admit to having no classical or scholarly training is changing how people who pick up your book will perceive the capital-T Truth, and this can lead one into spiritual territory where one would not want to be caught on the Day That Counts.

more here

Thursday, March 15, 2007

US State Department Moslem: "Imam" Yahya Hendi

The article below is from ultra-neo-con friendly Washinton Times, so they are trying to put a good face on this absurdity, but the readers of this blog are savvy enough to read between the lines, I am sure!

The chaplain, Imam Yahya Hendi, was in India for three days late last week to debunk myths about the status and treatment of Muslims in America, much as he has done in State Department-sponsored trips to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The visit, arranged by Karen Hughes' two-year-old public diplomacy office at the State Department, did produce successes.

At our mosque the imam wanted to lead a mass prayer and interact with the people," said Hyder Ali, a spokesman for the Baitul Aman Mosque, the largest in West Bengal. "But we turned down the request ... because he was acting on behalf of a government which for long years has been responsible for killings and sufferings of innocent Muslims in many countries including Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. We did not want to betray our brothers and sisters in those countries by extending him hospitality in our mosque."

Nur-ur Rahman Barkati, the chief of another prominent Calcutta mosque, said he would be pleased to allow Imam Hendi to conduct a prayer at his mosque had the American been on a "purely religious mission, with no connection with America's foreign diplomacy."

"He is a Muslim -- he is our brother. But we could not take him in our arms because he was here as a representative of the American government and George Bush -- the enemies of Islam and the world's Muslims," he said.

"We took part in this ... prayer only because we knew an American imam would conduct it. Had we known that he was sent by the American government we would have never dreamed of standing behind him on this prayer," said Rifat Hossain, a 21-year-old student. A dozen of his friends nodded in agreement.

click here to read more

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Who Is Vali Nasr?

Vali Nasr has become the US media's new favorite Muslim expert - especially on Shi'a Islam, Iran, and sectarianism. He has also become a favorite of some liberals, who like to quote him authoritatively from a couple of his books, again, especially when discussing Shi'as.

For these liberals, quoting a Shi'a Muslim scholar (i.e. an Ayatullah) on Shi'a Islam, would be anathema, because they are all considered to be "fundamentalists", and "backwards." And also because many liberals have adopted the neo-con hatred and Islamophobia for scholars of Islam, so they now have a supposed "liberal" American educated dude, who they can quote safely as a supposed representative of Shi'as.

So, now lets take a closer look at this guy. Who exactly is he? Who is he speaking for, and what are are his affiliations?

A glance at Vali Nasr’s career shows where he is coming from — and whom he is serving. In January 2006, Nasr was named the Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, the main Neocon Think Tank, focusing on foreign policy. He is currently Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). He joined NPS in 1993. The Naval Postgraduate School's Department of National Security Affairs (NSA) specialises in the study of International Relations, security policy, and regional studies. The NSA, according to its Web site, ‘brings together … faculty, students from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, National Guard and various civilian agencies, and scores of international officers from dozens of countries for the sole purpose of preparing tomorrow's military and civilian leaders for emerging security challenges’.

The Wikipedia entry on Vali Nasr offers some interesting insights that are worth examining:

First, Nasr, in January, 2006, was named the Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Now, I've talked about the awful liberal Brooking Institute.. But, if that is not bad enough, the CFR is like plain rotten - amongst its members are the following:

Dick Cheney
Condoleezza Rice
Paul Wolfowitz
Robert M. Gates
John D. Negroponte
Richard Perle
Leslie Gelb
Colin Powell
Alice Rivlin
Madeleine Albright
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Henry Kissinger

Nasr is often quoted as an expert on Shi'as of Middle East - so, what does he have to say about Iraq? Well here is an interesting bit:

By liberating and empowering Iraq's Shiite majority, the Bush administration helped launch a broad Shiite revival

and again:

Iraq's liberation has also generated new cultural, economic, and political ties among Shiite communities across the Middle East.

So, now we understand why Nasr was chosen to be a senior fellow at the CFR - he, like his neo-con buddies, regard the invasion and destruction of Iraq a "liberation" ! (heee hawww).

Now, it also turns out that Nasr "briefed" Bush on sectarianism in August 2006. It is quite possible that this guy is totally naive, that he thinks that the neo-cons are just ignorant, and are not doing anything deliberately to fan the flames of sectarianism to their advantage. It is possible that is what Nasr was thinking when he sat down for his chat with Bush.

But it is rather strange that Nasr was not familiar with the Rand Report that explicitly called for using sectarianism to divide Muslims and that he was not aware of other articles that also called for using Shi'a Sunni divisions to create a civil war situation amongst Muslims.

What exactly did Bush learn from Nasr, one wonders?

Nasr, is unfortunately just one in a whole slew of Muslims who have allied themselves with the neo-cons, and like other liberal imperialists, are not so much as opposed to the invasion ("liberation") of Iraq - but rather, how it was done, and that it could be done better. So, he is not opposed to the supremacy of the United States, just that it could exert its supremacy more efficiently.

In this respect, Nasr fits into what Saba Mahmood describes as one of those with whom

the U.S. strategists have struck a common chord with self-identified secular liberal Muslim reformers who have been trying to refashion Islam along the lines of the Protestant Reformation.

There is a fair bit of material available on this guy on the web, and I'll be updating this entry...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

the intelligence (not) summit

I really do not have much to say about the "secular islam summit" --- other than check out their absurd program and this little bit:

Mediterranean Reception---sponsored by the Secular Islam Summit in conjunction with The Intelligence Summit

Irshad Manji, Amir Taheri, Ibn Warraq

***(cash bar)***