The Jews Who Said No

Maya Wind grew up in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada. She witnessed bombed cafés and buses, armed attacks, and a general collapse of law and order as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians took an even uglier turn than normal. Her conscience, however, only became clearer.

All Israelis are bound by law to serve the Israeli military (IDF)’ Maya and others with her formed a group of conscientious objectors who refused to serve what they regarded as a morally repugnant instrument of oppression – braving prison, social boycott, and alienation from their friends and families. They called themselves the Shministim Letter, rallying behind a petition they wrote as twelfth-graders.

After suffering the psychological torture of being thrown in prison weeks at a time, taken out, and then thrown back in again, she was finally released from prison – the government declared her ‘mentally unfit to serve’. But her experiences have only helped her mature as an activist.

She slept in Palestinian homes that were in danger of being demolished by Israeli bulldozers. She joined feminist organisations that work to subvert the occupation. At Barnard College (USA), she helped organise ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’, setting up mock checkpoints, demonstrating to students the ritual humiliation and difficulty that ordinary Palestinians have to go through on a daily basis. Her extended family does not speak to her.

Her partner is Eran Efrati. He did serve as a combat soldier in the IDF. And it was his experiences in the army that taught him about the injustice and oppression under which Palestinians live. I heard him speak of a mission in which a family was not allowed to leave their house and bury a child the same contingent of soldiers killed the night before. He became part of Breaking the Silence, a group of ex-soldiers who raise awareness about the daily realities in the Occupied Territories, which in a lot of cases are shaped by them.

Together they form part of a growing group of activists who have embraced the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Movement, aiming to shame, and morally and economically weaken Israel’s policies towards Palestine. The American Studies Association, a group of academics, has recently thrown its weight behind the movement with well-known academics like Stephen Hawking and Judith Butler endorsing the movement.

My point, however, is not simply to draw attention to the movement. Despite the vague, sinister (mostly wrong) ideas that Pakistanis in particular have about what Zionism means, Jews do not equal Zionists. In fact, Maya and Eran and many like them refer to themselves as anti-Zionist, that is, they are opposed to the settler-colonial ideology that has brought about the state of Israel as it exists today.

There are people like Rachel Corrie, an American college student who died opposing the occupation as an Israeli bulldozer ran over her. There are organisations like Boycott From Within, a collection of Israeli citizens unafraid to call the policies of their own government a form of apartheid. There are queer communities that resent Israel’s policy of ‘pinkwashing’ – posing itself as the only gay-friendly country in a homophobic Middle East.

The venom with which we use words like ‘Jew’ or its equivalent in Urdu, ‘agent’, ‘conspiracy’– and more broadly, the raging anti-Semitism we exhibit are not simply morally repulsive; they are a disservice to the thousands of Jews from all over the world, especially America and Israel, that are disgusted with their countries’ policies and continue to devote their lives – giving them up, in some cases – to rectifying them.

Pakistan has supposedly taken the moral high ground when it comes to the occupation. We do not recognise Israel, and many a sermon is devoted to our ‘Palestinian brothers’ and their plight. Our actions to aid our ‘Palestinian brothers’ however, has been negligible; their plight is only mentioned when it is instrumental to anti-Americanism or our portrayal as victims.

Before we go on the next tirade on Jewish conspiracies, think of Maya and Eran. Think of all the Jews giving everything to make the Middle East more just, more integrated. They deserve better.

By: Saim Saeed

“Afghanistan war not in our interests”, president Karzai

Afghan leader expresses gratitude to American people, but ‘extreme anger’ towards US government

Expressing “extreme anger” toward the US government, Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai says the war in Afghanistan was not fought with his country’s interests in mind. “Afghans died in a war that’s not ours,’ Karzai said. He was quoted as saying he was certain the 12-year-old war, launched after the attacks of 11 September, 2001, was “for the US security and for the western interest”.

Karzai’s refusal to sign a security deal with Washington that would permit foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond this year has frustrated the White House, and Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that no US troops will be left in Afghanistan after 2014. The US president told Karzai in a phone call on Tuesday he had given the order to the Pentagon. The phone call was the first substantive discussion between the two leaders since June. But staking out a new position, the White House said in a statement it would leave open the possibility of concluding the bilateral security agreement later this year.

“It’s good for them to sign it with my successor,” Karzai told the Post. He has insisted the United States must jump-start peace talks with Taliban insurgents and end raids and strikes on Afghan homes before he signs the deal.

The NATO-led force in Afghanistan has a current strength of more than 52,000 soldiers, including 33,600 US troops. More than 3,400 coalition forces have been killed in the fight against the Taliban, including more than 2,300 US troops.

In the interview, the Afghan leader said he was deeply troubled by the war’s casualties, including those in US military operations, and felt betrayed by what he described as an insufficient US focus on going after Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan rather than in Afghan villages.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan dissipated his country’s “common cause” with the United States, Karzai told the newspaper. Criticising his US allies was the only way to secure a response by Washington to his concerns, he said.

The Post said Karzai told his interviewers as he escorted them out of his office on Saturday night: “To the American people, give them my best wishes and my gratitude. To the US government, give them my anger, my extreme anger.”

Published in Guardian

Angel Face and the Open Prison

Seeing her face on the TV screen, one is struck by her beauty. It is the face of an angel, pure and innocent.

Then she opens her mouth, and what pours out is vile and ugly, the racist message of the extreme right. Like seeing a cherub parting its lips and revealing the teeth of a vampire.

Ayelet Shaked may be the beauty queen of the present Knesset. Her name is enticing: Ayelet means gazelle, Shaked means almond. But she is the instigator of some of the most outrageous right-wing initiatives in this Knesset. She is also the chairwoman of Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home faction, the nationalist-religious party of the settlers, the most radical rightist party of the current government coalition.

Her latest exploit is a bill which is now being debated in the Knesset, which would levy a huge tax on donations given by foreign “political entities” to Israeli human rights associations, those who advocate a boycott of Israel (or of the settlements only), the indictment of Israeli officers accused of war crimes in international courts, and more.

All this while immense sums of money are flowing from abroad to the settlements and their supporters. A large share of these sums is practically donated by the US government, which allows their exemption from US income tax as philanthropic. Much of it comes from American Jewish billionaires of dubious repute.

In a way, this Gazelle is the face of an international phenomenon. All over Europe, extreme fascistic parties are flourishing. Small despised fringe groups suddenly expand into large parties with a national impact. From Holland to Greece, from France to Russia, these parties propagate a mixture of super-nationalism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and immigrant-hatred. A deadly witches’ brew.

The explanation seems to be simple. All over the place, the economic crisis has hit the people hard. Unemployment is high. Young people cannot find jobs. The victims look for a scapegoat on which to vent their anger. They choose the foreigner, the minority, the helpless. That has been so since antiquity. That’s how a failed painter named Adolf Hitler became a historic figure.

For politicians without vision or values, this is the easiest way to success and prominence. It is also the most despicable.

An Austrian socialist said more than a century ago: “Anti-Semitism is the socialism of the fools”.

Social reformers may believe that the whole thing is instigated by the world’s billionaires, who are concentrating an ever larger part of the world’s assets in their hands. The gap between the upper 1% and everybody else is growing relentlessly, and the beneficiaries are financing radical right-wingers to divert the anger of the masses in other directions. Stands to reason.

However, to my mind the economic explanation is too simple. If the same phenomenon appears at the same time in so many different countries, with different economic situations, there must be more profound reasons. There must be some elements of Zeitgeist in it.

I think that we are witnessing a basic cultural breakdown, a crisis of accepted values. This kind of upheaval generally accompanies social changes, often caused by economic and technological breakthroughs. It is a sign of social dissonance, of disorientation. On the eve of the Nazi revolt, the German writer Hans Fallada wrote an immensely successful book called “Kleiner Mann was nun?” (Little Man, What Now?), expressing the despair of the newly disinherited masses. Many little men and women around the world are in the same situation now.

In Israel, too. Last week, we saw a spectacle that would have shaken our grandparents to the core.

Some 300 black people, many of them barefoot in the biting cold of an exceptionally severe winter, were walking dozens of kilometers on a central road. They were refugees who had managed to flee from Sudan and Eritrea, to walk all the way through Egypt and the Sinai and had crossed the border into Israel. (Since then, a wall has been erected along the Sinai border, and this stream has practically stopped.)

There are now about 60,000 such African refugees in Israel. Thousands of them are crowded in the most run-down slums of Tel Aviv and other cities, causing deep resentment among the locals. This has proved a fertile breeding ground for racism. The most successful agitator is another beautiful member of the Knesset, the Likud’s Miri Regev, a former army chief spokeswoman, who is inciting the inhabitants and the country in the most primitive and vulgar manner.

Looking for a solution to the problem, the government built a large prison in the middle of the desolate Negev desert, unbearably hot in summer and unbearably cold in winter. Thousands of black refugees have been crowded there without trial for three years. Some called it a concentration camp.

Israeli human rights associations – the same as above – applied to the Supreme Court, and the imprisonment of the refugees was declared unconstitutional. The government thought again (if thinking is the right word) and decided to circumvent the decision. Not far from the forbidden prison a new prison was built, and the refugees were put there for one year each.

No, not a prison. Something called “Open Live-in Facility”. We are good at naming things. We call that “verbal laundry”.

This “open” desert prison is closed during the night, but inmates are free during the day. However, it is far from anywhere. The inmates must register three times during daytime – thus making it impossible to go anywhere, not to mention finding work.

It is from this “open” prison that the valiant 300 have walked out and marched all the way to Jerusalem, some 150 kilometers, in order to demonstrate in front of the Knesset. It took them three days. They were accompanied by a few Israeli human rights activists, mostly female, their light faces very conspicuous among all the black heads.

In front of the Knesset they were brutally attacked by specially trained riot police. Each demonstrator was surrounded by half a dozen bullies and violently thrown into a bus, which brought them to the old non-open prison.

I am dwelling on this incident because I am profoundly ashamed.

Racism is not a new thing in Israel. Far from it. But whenever we accuse our gazelles of racism, they answer that this is pure libel. There is a conflict between us and the Palestinians, strict security measures are called for, this has nothing to do with racism, God forbid.

This is a very dubious argument, but at least it has some plausibility.

But we have no national conflict with the refugees. No security considerations are involved. It is racism, pure and simple.

Let’s imagine that suddenly, in a remote corner between Eritrea and the Sudan, a Jewish tribe had been discovered. Its 60,000 members want to come to Israel.

The country would be in a delirium. The red carpet would be rolled out in Ben-Gurion airport. Both the president and the prime minister would be there, ready with their most banal speeches. They would receive an “absorption subsidy”, free housing and work.

So it’s not an economic problem, nor a question of absorption, housing or employment. It’s not even a question of skin color. Black Jews from Ethiopia are readily welcomed.

It’s simply that they are not jewish.

No room here for other people. They would take away our jobs. They would change the demographic balance. This, after all, is a Jewish State!

OR is it?

If this were a Jewish State, would it treat refugees this way?

A hundred memories float into our minds. Of Jews being hounded from country to country. Of the mighty United States of America rejecting Jewish refugees on a German ship, fleeing from Nazi persecution. And later exterminated in the death camps. Of the Swiss pushing back Jews escaping from the concentration camps who had made it to their border.

Remember “The Boat Is Full?”

If this really were a Jewish state, would it try to bribe African states to accept these refugees without asking what would happen to them there? For a refugee from the hell of Darfur, Zimbabwe is as foreign as New Zealand (unless one subscribes to the theory that “all blacks are the same”.)

If this really were a Jewish state, would the Minister of the Interior, a Likud functionary, send his force of goons to go hunting for refugees in the streets?

No, this is not a Jewish state. The Bible commands us to treat the stranger in our midst as we would want to be treated ourselves. “Also, thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 23:9) Amen.

Article by: Uri Avnery published on December 23, 2013

The writer is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

The War in New Phase

Enemy’s war never ends: only changes its strategies and frontiers. India’s war against the subcontinents’ Muslims did not end in 1947 or 1971.

It still continues. And Bangladesh is the perpetual battleground. The Muslims of Bangladesh are given no time to relax. They can only survive such on-going onslaught if they can identify and defeat the enemy strategies, and purge their foot-soldiers. A body cannot live a long life with killer bugs inside. And Bangladesh has enough of them. The political border between Bangladesh and India still exist -even after the break-up of Pakistan in 1971. But Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) and their ally have been very successful to remove the country’s cultural boundary –especially between the BAL followers and the Indians. And culture has a dominant and defining role on politics. Hence, the vision of BAL leaders is seldom different from that of a Bengali Hindu. Bangladesh’s international border has been made irrelevant to belittle such mutual cultural and political bondage. Recent 3 days’ official visit of Mr. Pranab Mukharjee –the Indian President, to Dhaka amidst 3 days’ dawn to dusk wheel-jam strike was primarily arranged to demonstrate India’s commitment to such bondage. Mr. Mukharjee directly delivered the promise of India’s unrelenting support to the troubled Prime Minister Mrs. Hasina Wajed.

Like an Indian Hindu, the BAL people too, attribute Bangladesh’s independent entity on the world map as a legacy of Pakistan and its Muslim heritage. This map itself reminds them the unwanted division of 1947. Such Pakistani legacy is hindering BAL and it ally to fully fall into Indian lap. However the political map of 1947 is so much deeply rooted in the Bengali Muslims’ psyche that India could not change it in 1971 –even after a full military occupation. They realised, they can undo such legacy only through deleting it from Muslims’ mind-set-only possible through a complete de-Islamisation. And that needs a full cultural conversion. Hence, they brought a full-fledged cultural war in Bangladesh. They consider it a key strategy, and the sure way of isolating its 150 million Bengali Muslims from the whole Muslim Ummah; and thereby to bring their total subjugation to Indian hegemony. Their worry, if Islam survives in Bangladesh, not only the border will survive, rather will get strengthened to build a citadel of Islam on her eastern flank. One on her western flank is already giving her a lot of troubles; hence can hardly afford another one on her eastern border. Therefore, dismantling such a possibility in Bangladesh is India’s most important priority. As a part of the same coalition, India’s crony government in Bangladesh has already launched on her behalf an all-inclusive war against the Islamists. Recent events in Bangladesh must be studied with such holistic perspectives.

Pakistan’s division in 1971 was not the endgame. Rather starting point of the next phase of Nehru doctrine – the Indianisation of the separated East Pakistan. India’s vision is clear. Pakistan has disappeared from its eastern border. But Bangladesh didn’t, and still survives. They believe, if Bangladesh with its 160 million populations sustains as an independent Islamic state, it will work as India’s security threat for ever. The country’s rapidly resurging Islamists can take over at any point of time. That will pose against India not only a strategic threat, rather a civilizational challenge. Threat to mighty Roman and Persian empires did not come from mighty kingdoms, rather came from the poor people of Arabia. Hence they argue, if USA and the Western Europe could consider an emerging Islamic Afghanistan -with less than 30 million people in another part of the glove, a security threat, why Islamic Bangladesh on her border cannot be the same for India? If USA and her European ally can massively bomb and occupy Afghanistan, why can’t India do the same in Bangladesh? India is selling this view to the anti-Islamic coalition of the west and getting a full support -as evidenced by their support for India’s extremely brutal occupation of Kashmir. India has deployed more than 600,000 forces to suppress the Kashmiri up-rise. India is speculating the same scenario in Bangladesh. Hence, India is getting more aggressive towards her anti-Indian Bangladeshi neighbours. Its Border Security Force (BSF) has killed more than 400 Bangladeshis only in last 4 years. They did not kill even a quarter of that on its Pakistan border in last 60 years. Bangladesh’s weaker military power might have contributed to make her people more vulnerable. Moreover, the crony government of Hasina paid blind eye to that.

The Cultural War

India’s current war is not for physical occupation of Bangladesh; rather occupation of the people’s conceptual and cultural territory. India wants to mould Bengali Muslims’ mind and mentality prior to any all invasive war. That is through cultural conversion. India is working day and night on such scheme. It has deployed thousands of foot-soldiers on Bangladeshi soil to launch a huge cultural war. Thousands of them are working as music teachers, dance teachers, art teachers and in many other forms in almost all over the country. Highly paid Indian agents are working as university teachers, newspaper editors, TV presenters, columnists, reporters in almost all government and non-government TV channels and newspapers. Most of the country’s media organisations are indeed the Indian occupied territories. They are the real Trojan horses inside Bangladesh. Recently they launched an aggressive media and internet warfare against Islam and the Islamists. Their real picture came to the forefront while the Shahbag drama unfolded against the Islamists. When the huge number of the cultural war foot-soldiers demonstrated the strength in Dhaka’s Shahbag roundabout, these Indian agents cum professionals could not remain hidden in their holes. They came out with their real colour as warrior activists –especially while playing their role as reporters, news casters, talk-show presenters and newspaper columnists. Their colleagues in the internet blogs became so much emboldened by the government support that they did not hesitate to cross the red line. They not only raised slogans for total annihilation of Islamic parties and their leaders, but also started huge abusive campaign against the Almighty Allah Subhana Wa Taala, His great prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the prophet’s wives and his great companions. To their surprise, this caused a huge Islamic resurgence in the silent majority. Millions of people came to the street. As a consequence, their bubbles quickly fizzled out. They retreated back to their workplaces under the government’s security shield.

The Bengali people are indeed divided into two nations since day one of Muslim advent in this land. Hence, after the end of British rule, both the Hindus and the Muslims are pursuing two incompatible political visions. In 1947, Bengal’s Muslim leaders tried to create an undivided greater Bengal -separated from greater India. But the Hindu Bengali watered down such a nationalist project with a fear that it would bring dominance of the majority Bengali Muslims. In 1947, in Bengal’s parliament in Calcutta, the Hindu members opted for joining greater Hindu India with a pan-Hindu vision. The Bengali Muslims had two options: either to form independent East Bengal or to join Pakistan. In those days, the East Bengal Muslims were known for its non-existent military power and poor economy. If separated as an independent state in 1947, its army would have been much weaker than that of Nizam of Hyderabad. The Bengali Muslims’ presence in civil administration and other areas was also very scanty. Hence the wise Bengali Muslim leaders of 1947 could clearly anticipate Kashmir or Hyderabad-like Indian invasion of an independent East Bengal, thereby quick accession to India. That invasion and accession of East Bengal too, like invasion and accession of Kashmir and Hyderabad could go unnoticed by the world powers. India could have found hundreds of reasons to justify that. Even to catch a thief, one needs to invest huge energy, even endanger his life. Therefore, who would have come to invest their lives and money to save Independent Bengal from such Indian invasion? Did anyone come to save Hyderabad or Kashmir? In those days, the zeal of pan-Islamism in Muslim youths in Bengal was very high, hence inspired to work for Pakistan. This was indeed the background that led the Bengali Muslims to join Pakistan. Indeed, in the making of the greatest Muslim country in the world, the Bengali Muslims’ contribution was the greatest. Even All India Muslim League –the organisation which led Indian Muslims to make Pakistan was born in Dhaka. In 1946 election on Pakistan issue, Muslim League got the strongest support from Bengal –not from any other province of India. But BAL’s thoughtless jingoists have little strategic depth in their thought or intellectual calibre to understand such crucial survival interests of Islam and the Muslims in Bengal. Hence they detest the Bengali Muslims’ decision of 1947. With such a distance from Islamic belief and non-commitment for the Muslim interests, these BAL’s cultural and intellectual converts now sing the same song with the Indian Hindus.

The Hindu Vision & the Lie

The Hindu Bengalis had a vision. They wanted a united Bengal only if merged with India. That way, the Bengali Muslims were offered the slavery of Hindu majority rule in undivided India. The British left in 1947. But since then, the slavery under the Hindu rule has proved to be much worse than the slavery under the British. The brutality has already been much revealing in systematic anti-Muslim genocide in Kashmir, Gujarat, Assam, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Meerut, Aligarh, Allahabad and many other Indian states and cities. So the anticipation of Allama Iqbal and the Muslim League leaders about the danger of Hindu rule against Muslims proved to be 100% true. So with such anticipation, in 1947, the Hindu project of united Bengal under Indian Hindu majority rule was out-rightly rejected by the Muslims.

But still the Hindu protagonists of undivided India did not move a single inch from their pre-1947 idea, rather they working day and night on the same project. The whole paradigm of India’s current cold war in Bangladesh –even in the remaining part of Pakistan, is based on that pre-1947 Hindu concept. The Indian Hindu accepted the division of Bengal and creation of Pakistan in 1947 for the time being; their next move was to divide Pakistan and then engulf the weaker half –the East Pakistan. This is India’s much proclaimed Nehru doctrine. So far, India has taken every calculated move to pursue that strategy. Since 1947, they were waiting for a right opportunity, and even Nehru himself made a move to annex East Pakistan in his life time. But that failed. The real opportunity came in 1971. India skillfully manipulated Pakistan’s internal political crisis to manufacture a full-fledged war to invade and occupy East Pakistan. But in 1972, India had to withdraw its occupying troops under tremendous international pressure. Moreover in 1972, the cultural and political situation of Bangladesh was not ripe enough for India to go further for a full annexation. India needed to do much home works to make the ground quite ripe for a full harvest.

Since the political map of Bangladesh draws its legitimacy from 1947’s division of India, the Indian agents are doing concerted propaganda against the sanity of such division. Even Dr. Zakir Naik –the famous Muslim preacher of India argues openly in his speech that the division of India in 1947 was wrong. It indeed owes to his tunnel vision and gross inadequacy in his political understanding. With such personal constraints, people cannot see a bigger picture. In his public speech, he boasts India as the fast growing superpower and rejoices that India will go far superior to the USA. As if, the Indian Muslims are going to gain much from India’s super-power status. Like an average Hindu Indian, here he turns to a nationalist chauvinist. Such speeches are getting huge audience all over the subcontinent. This way he is doing a great job as India’s cold war warrior against Bangladesh and Pakistan. In fact, India’s such relentless cold war has made millions of such converts not only in India, but also in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Blessing of a Muslim State

But the truth is different. The creation of Pakistan in 1947 brought enormous blessing –both material and spiritual, not only to Pakistan, but also to the people of Bangladesh. India’s Muslim Population is larger than that of Bangladesh. But the number of Muslim doctors, engineers, scientists, academics, lawyers, army and police men, religious scholars, industrialists and big businessman living in only one city of Bangladesh like Dhaka is much larger than the total number of such value-added people in India’s whole Muslim population. Indian Muslims are almost invisible amidst the overwhelming Hindus in the overseas, where as the overseas Bangladeshi are almost ten million. The success of Pakistani Muslims is much higher, because the creation of this largest Muslim country with a pan-Islamic vision worked with much better image among the world’s Muslim population. The middle-eastern rulers, developers and business establishments helped Pakistan in many ways. After 1971’s debacle, they not only opened gates for millions of Pakistani workers to their countries and built hospitals and mosques in Pakistani cities, but also financed Pakistan’s costly nuclear projects. Whereas Bangladesh had to carry the status tag of India-midwifed vassal state for many years.

These are only few material gifts of an independent Muslim majority state. More blessings come in other ways. The Muslims build states not for mere raising homes and businesses, nor for growing cattle and crops. They can do such things even in non-Muslim countries. In life time, Muslims must play the most important role to fulfil the Divine obligation as Allah’s viceroy on earth. That is to bring ultimate supremacy of His law in His land, and contribute his own share to raise an Islamic civilisation. If the land is grabbed by the enemies, a Muslim must do something to end such occupation. The early Muslims made most of their sacrifices not in raising homes or businesses, rather to establish and defend such Islamic state. Indeed, this is the greatest teaching of the prophet (peace be upon him). The Muslims of other times and other lands have a duty to follow such an indispensable prophetic tradition. Living in a non-Muslim state, a Muslim does not enjoy any space to practise such tradition. This is why migration to a non-Muslim state never got appreciation from a true believer. It has been only justified for security reasons; like the migration of early Muslims to Ethiopia. Hence, all Muslims are faith-bound to establish Muslim majority states; then move on to convert those into Islamic state. Indeed, in 1947, the creation of Pakistan was deemed as an obligation to address such a basic Muslim political as well as a spiritual need.

The Muslim majority Bangladesh and Pakistan are not still Islamic; but the opportunities for such change are still profound. The Muslims in these two countries can still dream about that. But such dream is unthinkable in Hindu majority India -even in coming thousand years. At best, the Indian Muslims can practise Islam as devout follower of Tabligh jamaat. But Tabligh jamaat does not replicate Prophet’s complete Islam. They cannot practise Islam as a full Muslim with all the dimensions of prophetic teachings. For that, a Muslim needs to enter into full sharia rule, into Islamic culture, into full Islamic education, into Islamic administration, into jihad, into Muslim brotherhood, so on and so forth. Hence, for such a full Islamic practice, Muslims need an Islamic state. The prophet of Islam and his great companions needed that. Hence today, how a Muslim can be full Muslim without that?

The Indian Hindus may enough reasons to tell a lot of lies against 1947’s division of India. They blame it a British ploy in conjugation with Muslim communalists! But how a Muslim can repeat the same lie? Muslims can commit to such lie only with intense ignorance. This owes to their ignorance of Islamic vision of a true believer. The enemies have a motive. They want to take the Muslims out of the Divine mission; hence they relentlessly tell lies against Islam and the Muslim history. Bangladesh is the home of more than 150 Million Muslims. So the enemies cannot be oblivious of such huge Muslim populations. Indeed they have an agenda. So the country has turned not only to homes of thousands of anti-Islamic NGOs, but also breeding ground for thousands of anti-Islamic bloggers and cultural warriors. They have gained so much strength under the current government that they are now demanding the prohibition of all Islamic parties and their activities. For the Islamists, the life was not so difficult even in British rule. It was unthinkable even 60 years ago.

The Objectives

India’s political investment in Bangladesh has always been massive. In 2008 election, it went to a diabolic proportion. London’s weekly “the Economist” gave a testimony to that. So far, India’s key strategy has been to replicate its successfully executed Sikkim strategy: that entails buying the political leaders as well as the players in the key positions in the army, media, police and civil administration. In 2006, after the end of Khalida Zia’s BNP rule, India worked with other anti-Islamic foreign stakeholders to install a pro-Indian proxy-military government to manipulate the forthcoming election results in 2008. Their plan worked very well and their stooges won a landslide victory. After the election victory and quick installation of a coalition government, the AL and its 14 party-alliance were entrusted with the second phase of the work. This time, India and her cronies in Bangladesh did not want to miss this hard-earned opportunity in any way. After analysing the past 4 years’ BAL administration, it is now clear that the government has worked with two-pronged main objectives. These are: a). Rapid de-Islamisation of the people –especially Muslim youths and the school-going children, and b). Breaking down the backbones of the Islamic organisations and their Islamist leaders.

The Strategies

To fulfil the stipulated objectives, BAL and its ally are working on some planned strategies. These can be easily understood from the last four years’ activities. These are as follows:

Strategy 1: Re-framing a secular education policy at all level and re-writing all text books with a special emphasis on curtailing the amount of Islamic knowledge and infusing sentiments against country’s Islamic values and personalities. Raising acceptability and compatibility with India’s Hindu worldviews has been other strategic goal. The Hindu political, intellectual and literary figures like Gandhi, Nehru, Tagore and others were placed in limelight as the figure of highness to be followed by the students. Whereas Islam’s great prophet like Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) and other prophets, the great companions of the prophet, the great Muslim rulers, the thinkers and the reformers who contributed decisively to Islamise Bengal’s landscape were given very little or no importance in the education policy. For eyewash, they added some Islamic flavour by incorporating some stories of folklore fakirs and sufi saints in the textbooks.

Strategy 2: Reducing and restricting the learning of the Holy Qur’an, the prophetic tradition and Islam’s history in both the state run secular schools and in the religious madrasas. With such an objective against Islam, the government reduced the emphasis of learning Arabic language in religious madrasas: made it optional from its previous compulsory status. Moreover, the amount of dis-information on fundamentals of Islam that are passed on to the students through the text books is also huge. Recently it came to the press that it is written in year 9’s text book that meats of animals sacrificed in the name of other deities are also halal.

Strategy 3: Projecting Shaikh Mujib as the greatest personality in thousands of years’ Bengal history. “Bangla academy” and other government bodies run by the tax-payers money were entrusted to publish hundreds of books on Mujib and his family –both for adults and for the youths. Millions of Taka was granted to public libraries to purchase those books. TV, radio and other mass media were used to publicise Mujib’s life and his speeches. Whereas, publishing books on Qur’anic teachings, the prophet’s life, great Muslim personalities and Islamic history were much restricted.

Strategy 4: Keeping constant vigilance on religious sermons in mosques, prohibiting and restricting Quranic tafsirs classes in open-field mass gatherings by the scholars, and prohibiting publication and circulation of books on jihad and sharia. The police and the Rapid Action Battalions (RAB) were the key tools for suppression of any Islamic propagation. They raided houses, offices and bookshops to confiscate Islamic books –especially on jihad and Islamic movement. The books written by Moulana Syed Maudoodi and Syed Qutb are the special target. In Bangladesh, it is a common practice that the people form committees to organise Quranic tafseer sessions in open fields. These happen in almost every nook and corner of the country around the year. In such gatherings, the eminent religious scholars are invited to deliver long speeches on Islamic teaching. Indeed, the Qur’anic knowledge and prophetic tradition survived among people through such public speeches for ages; and thus Islam reached to the doorsteps of the common people in Bengal. But Hasina’s regime has turned its government machinery against such popular tradition. She and her political ally rebuke it as a tool of spreading fundamentalism. Moulana Dilawar Hussain Sayeedi is widely known as the most famous religious speaker that Bangladesh has ever produced. His speech inspired scores of non-Muslims to accept Islam. But such extraordinary skill and Islamic knowledge of Moulana Sayeedi did not impress the government. He was put him behind the bar for more than two years. The government alleged him as murderer, arsonist, rapist and above all anti-liberationist in the war of independence in 1971. Recently the subservient judiciary of the government has passed a verdict to hang him. After such pronouncement, the country has entered into a virtual civil war like state. Already more than 100 people are killed by the police; several thousands are wounded and tens of thousands of people are imprisoned.

Strategy 5: Annihilation of Islamic parties by banning their organisation, killing their leaders, imprisoning their workers, closing their offices and confiscating financial resources. The BAL government has already banned Hezbut Tahrir as a part of the strategy. In Bangladesh, people are dying every day by terrorist attacks. BAL’s student cadres openly carry firearms; they kill people in front of the police. But the police do not touch them; let alone arresting them and putting them behind the bar. Although there is no proof that Hezbut Tahrir has taken part in any terrorist activities, the Government has disbanded them. At Shahbag roundabout of Dhaka, the BAL cadres are openly raising slogan to kill every razakar without any trail, instigating people to destroy the Islamists’ banks and other financial institutions. They have clogged the busy roads for more than a month. In a civilized country, all these are punishable criminal crimes. But in Bangladesh, they are getting government’s blessing. The government not only asked the local schools to supply children to continuously feed Shahbag’s gathering, but also deployed hundred police constables to protect these hooligans day and night from public anger. The government and non-government TV channels have been asked to show day-long live casts to spread their venomous speech. One the other hand, if Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) or Shibir (JI’s student force) or any other Islamic party bring out any peaceful procession, police would apply every possible means to dismantle them. In several occasions, they even opened fire arms to kill the protesters. The Home Minister has ordered the police to resist JI and Shibir where ever found – even if found in peaceful rally or procession. Dhaka’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner has been reported to ask his police to shoot JI and Shibir worker instantly if found anywhere. In a civilised country, a police constable is never given the authority to kill any man or woman on the street. Even Bangladesh’s own law does not allow even a district judge to hang a worst criminal; his judgement needs to be ratified by the high court. But the current government has given such power to political foot soldiers on the street. So the war like situation had returned to Bangladesh’s street. So JI is not allowed to hold any rally in any part of the country. Already police has killed more than 100 people, and tens of thousands of JI and Shibir workers are arrested. The government is not still happy with such brutal suppression; they now want to ban JI.

Strategy 6: Using cultural activities like open air concerts, dance show, drama show, film festivals, village theatres, TV shows to deflect people away from Islamic belief and practices. To make this cultural war a big success, India’s investment is huge. It has extensively deployed its cultural foot-soldiers in every nook and corner of the country. India’s film stars, singers, dancers are making continuous visits to Bangladeshi cities. Thousands of people attend those shows. Bangladesh is a country of foreign-funded NGOs. Thousands of these NGOs are working exclusively to train boys and girls in dancing and singing. Along with hundreds of Bangladeshi Hindu girls, thousands of Muslim girls from secular families have joined this huge army of cultural warriors against Islamic faith and practices. All these are happening in the name of cultural activities.

The Imminent Danger

The enemy of Islam understand that the full conversion of Bengali Muslims to non-Islam is difficult. But they also understand that it is very easy make them cultural converts. It is no less harmful either. Indeed, this way they are pulling the Muslims away from Islam’s fundamental belief and practice, and making easy inroads into Muslims’ inner circles of politics and other activities. Since culture itself is the expression of Muslim faith; and many Bengali Muslims are indeed mere cultural Muslim with little Islamic knowledge and aqeeda, such cultural conversion will be highly detrimental to Islam in Bangladesh. Ultimately, that will lead to massive de-Islamisation. And such de-Islamisation would adequately serve the enemy’s political and strategic purpose.

In the past, the Muslims have experienced the calamities caused by this de-Islamised brand of the Muslims. They worked as the most obedient collaborators of the enemies. They fought with the British colonial army to extend their rule in most of the Muslim lands. Like any non-Muslim army, they did not hesitate to slaughter the fellow Muslims. The same brand of people joined British army in World War-I to snatch the Muslim Iraq and Palestine from Muslim Khelafa and placed them in the alter of the British Empire. In 1971, the same de-Islamised brand went to India to get training and arms to dismember Pakistan and slaughter both Bengali and non-Bengali Muslims in Bangladesh. Now they want to hang the remaining Islamists. India still wants the same lot of collaborators with same anti-Islamic zeal. They are working very hard to get them in enough number. The gathering in Shahbag, indeed gave a vivid display of these products. This is the core point of India’s current cold war in Bangladesh. If India continues to win the war with current pace, she will not need any conventional war to colonise this Muslim land. The time will come when these Bangladesh converts, like Bengali Hindu, will ask for the merger. India is cunningly waiting for such a moment.

By: Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal ::
Written on 17/03/2013