Paris – Acounter Narrative

The display of collective grief at the Paris murders on January 7 of the personnel of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is understandable. But there is also a degree of hypocrisy in this narrative. Apparently, some victims of violence are more equal than others. Specifically the bodies of Muslims are considered less worthy compared to the French.

France has been supporting death in many Muslim countries including Syria, where the number of deaths far exceeds, on a daily basis, the twelve killed in Paris. The narrative fails to understand that effects have causes and that freedoms need to be asserted empathetically.

The Paris incident has brought to the fore very familiar narratives about Islam, Muslims, the west and secular liberalism; and especially the incompatibility and inferiority of the former compared with the latter. The recurring themes in the narrative start with the self-congratulatory, where secular, liberal people and establishment of the west – in this instance France – laud themselves for their stoic bravery in the face of violence and intimidation by religious extremists who wish to curtail their liberal democratic freedoms. Next in line is myopia (ignoring what is happening now in the Muslim world under the aegis of western liberal states); and amnesia (ignoring the genealogy of how present-day Muslim countries were constructed by western power). In the French colonies nationalists demanding freedom were silenced in one way or another.

If stoicism under adversity is to be lauded then Muslim populations of the countries and regions attacked by western powers should all be called heroes and given gold medals. The extremism of western military action that Muslim populations have had to endure in the aftermath of western intervention in their countries trumps anything the populations of the west have had to suffer at the hands of Muslim extremists (or zealots). Compare Paris and its environs after the attack (and four or five previous ones) and twelve deaths, with the situation of Damascus, Allepo, Tripoli, Kabul, Baghdad, among others.

The dominant narrative in the response to the Paris attack is couched in terms of a conflict between the west and Islam, each championing different values: democracy, secularism, liberty and reason attributed to the former; and tyranny, intolerance, religion, authoritarianism and violence to the latter. The idea of blasphemy clearly belongs to the latter and is seen by secularists as a constraint on the freedom of speech, if not on freedom itself, that is guaranteed by democratic principles and by the pursuit of reason so central to western culture.

Free speech, the Paris narratives assert, is central to democracy. Conversely, these narratives assert the absence of ‘democratic traditions’ in Muslim societies to explain Muslim reaction to the coercive notion of blasphemy and their inability to grasp the supreme importance of freedom and free speech.

But this is simplistic. Although democracy, free speech and freedom are central to the west, democratic republics are as capable of legislating repression at home and depriving the liberty of weaker peoples abroad – by military or economic means. If blasphemy indicates a limit transgressed, secular criticism does not necessarily signify liberation. Because western societies do, of course, have legal constraints on communication. Thus there are laws of copyright, patent, and trademark, and laws protecting commercial secrets, all of which limit in different ways the free circulation of expressed ideas. In the UK there is legislation against incitement to racial hatred. In the lived life, constraints of power and socio-economic class may limit the freedom and liberty of the individual and groups.

There is no discussion of causal factors for the incidence in the Paris narratives. Instead myopia and amnesia allows them to almost entirely overlook the manner and means by which the historic and contemporary processes and institutions have been constructed by western power – which Muslims in the diaspora and in their homelands have to negotiate in their lived life. Liberal powers have used massive force and liberal arguments to make, unmake, expand and dissolve states violently.

The French revolutionary war helped form modern France and also liberalise Europe. The continental expansion of the US against the indigenous population culminated in the Mexican-American War; the American Civil War helped construct a modern American state. It was the liberal Allies who dissolved the Austro-Hungarian empire after the First World War, and established independent European nation states in Europe in its place. At the same time they destroyed the Ottoman Empire and replaced it by Mandates governed forcibly by two liberal European governments, Britain and France.

The clashing liberal principles of national self-determination (the right to independence) and national sovereignty (cession as treason) have justified various kinds of political violence. The French state, though fiercely secular at home, tried to Christianise the Muslim population of Algeria; supported a minority sect to power in Syria; and in the Lebanon a non-Muslim minority was empowered above the Muslim majority. The list goes on.

The solution to the problem of Muslim extremism is located by the Paris narrative in acculturating its Muslim populations into French culture, and to spread secularism in Muslim countries by separating religion from politics. This would be to remove the ideological support that buttresses the continuation of Muslim extremism.

The narrative that is missing is an analysis of the motives for and repercussions of western policy of military intervention and regime change, which has resulted in the death of well over a million people, as well as devastation and destruction in Muslim countries. This silence is not limited to the French alone. Much of Pakistani media is uncritically reproducing the mainstream narrative of the western press on the Paris attack. This is not to say that the twelve deaths in Paris ought not to be lamented but they should be analysed in the context of death on a wider geographical and historical context.

Do Muslim societies/states need to change? Of course they do. But so do trigger-happy western societies and states. For those who say that Muslims do not, and do not want to, integrate in western societies one would say look at the US. The African-Americans who are similar to the white majority in culture and religion are in the US – but are not of it. They have had to struggle very hard to secure their (unguaranteed) basic human rights. And they still face discrimination and segregation.

By: Pervaiz Nazir, A Senior Fellow, POLIS at the University of Cambridge.


You are Blessed than Billion

If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

Have a good day, count your blessings, and if you want, pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.

The Difference

The Difference

If you’re a Christian who demanded that all Muslims condemn the Paris attacks but did not yourself condemn the attacks in Central African Republic the same week done in the name of religion, then you might want to think about why.

Fact is, most Christians, like me didn’t condemn the attacks in Africa because we cannot relate in any way to the attackers and don’t feel they are part of our religion. This is exactly the same as Muslims in Michigan or Dubai or Paris felt about the attackers this month or the way Christians felt when Anders Breivik in Norway murdered 77 people in the name of his twisted idea of Christianity.

Interesting thing is that Muslims DID condemn the Paris attacks, groups like CAIR published lists of numerous leaders who condemned the attacks.

One can also argue that the extremist militias in Africa are “not real Christians” or that our religion does not teach violence….just as 1.9 billion peaceful Muslims can argue the same about the extremists in thier own religion. The extremists argue otherwise. If you are Christian make no mistake that the people chopping heads off in the name of your religion right now believe that THEY are real Christians and that thier acts are supported by the Bible they can readily quote.

What is the difference?

Can we please stop pointing fingers at one religion and realize that the world is a big place with crazy people all over….but mostly good people?

By: Bruce Fenton

19 Pain Killers found in your Kitchen

Cure Muscle & Joint pain with Ginger
When Danish researchers asked achy people to jazz up their diets with ginger, it eased muscle and joint pain, swelling and stiffness for up to 63 percent of them within 2 months. Experts credit ginger’s potent compounds called gingerols, which prevent the production of pain-triggering hormones. The study-recommended dose: Add at least 1 teaspoon of dried ginger or 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger to meals daily.

Cure a toothache with cloves
Got a toothache and can’t get to the dentist? Gently chewing on a clove can ease tooth pain and gum inflammation for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers. Experts point to a natural compound in cloves called eugenol, a powerful, natural anaesthetic. Bonus: Sprinkling a teaspoon of ground cloves on meals daily may also protect your ticker. Scientists say this simple action helps stabilize blood sugar, plus dampen production of artery-clogging cholesterol in as little as three weeks.

Heal heartburn with cider vinegar

Sip 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water before every meal, and experts say you could shut down painful bouts of heartburn in as little as 24 hours. Cider vinegar is rich in malic and tartaric acids, powerful digestive aids that speed the breakdown of fats and proteins so your stomach can empty quickly, before food washes up into the esophagus, triggering heartburn pain, explains Joseph Brasco, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Center for Colon and Digestive Diseases in Huntsville , AL .

Erase earaches with garlic
Painful ear infections drive millions of Americans to doctors’ offices every year. To cure one fast, just place two drops of warm garlic oil into your aching ear twice daily for five days. This simple treatment can clear up ear infections faster than prescription meds, say experts at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Scientists say garlic’s active ingredients (germanium, selenium, and sulfur compounds) are naturally toxic to dozens of different pain-causing bacteria. To whip up your own garlic oil gently simmer three cloves of crushed garlic in a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil for two minutes, strain, then refrigerate for up to two weeks, suggests Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., co-author of the book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. For an optimal experience, warm this mix slightly before using so the liquid will feel soothing in your ear canal.

Chase away joint and headache pain with cherries

Latest studies show that at least one in four women is struggling with arthritis, gout or chronic headaches. If you’re one of them, a daily bowl of cherries could ease your ache, without the stomach upset so often triggered by today’s painkillers, say researchers at East Lansing ‘s Michigan State University . Their research reveals that anthocyanins, the compounds that give cherries their brilliant red color, are anti-inflammatories 10 times stronger than ibuprofen and aspirin. Anthocyanins help shut down the powerful enzymes that kick-start tissue inflammation, so they can prevent, as well as treat, many different kinds of pain, explains Muraleedharan Nair, Ph.D., professor of food science at Michigan State University . His advice: Enjoy 20 cherries (fresh, frozen or dried) daily, then continue until your pain disappears.

Fight tummy troubles with fish
Indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases…if your belly always seems to be in an uproar, try munching 18 ounces of fish weekly to ease your misery. Repeated studies show that the fatty acids in fish, called EPA and DHA, can significantly reduce intestinal inflammation, cramping and belly pain and, in some cases, provide as much relief as corticosteroids and other prescription meds. EPA and DHA are powerful, natural, side effect-free anti-inflammatories, that can dramatically improve the function of the entire gastrointestinal tract, explains biological chemist Barry Sears, Ph.D., president of the Inflammation Research Foundation in Marblehead , MA . For best results, look for oily fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, trout and herring.

Prevent PMS with yogurt

Up to 80 percent of women will struggle with premenstrual syndrome and its uncomfortable symptoms, report Yale researchers. The reason: Their nervous systems are sensitive to the ups and downs in estrogen and progesterone that occur naturally every month. But snacking on 2 cups of yogurt a day can slash these symptoms by 48 percent, say researchers at New York ‘s Columbia University . Yogurt is rich in calcium, a mineral that naturally calms the nervous system, preventing painful symptoms even when hormones are in flux, explains Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a professor of gynecology at Yale University.

Tame chronic pain with turmeric

Studies show turmeric, a popular East Indian spice, is actually three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, plus it can help relieve chronic pain for 50 percent of people struggling with arthritis and even fibromyalgia, according to Cornell researchers. That’s because turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, naturally shuts down cyclooxygenase 2, an enzyme that churns out a stream of pain-producing hormones, explains nutrition researcher Julian Whitaker, M.D. and author of the book,Reversing Diabetes. The study-recommended dose: Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of this spice daily onto any rice, poultry, meat or vegetable dish.

Soothe foot pain with salt
Experts say at least six million Americans develop painful ingrown toenails each year. But regularly soaking ingrown nails in warm salt water baths can cure these painful infections within four days, say scientists at California ‘s Stanford University . The salt in the mix naturally nixes inflammation, plus it’s anti-bacterial, so it quickly destroys the germs that cause swelling and pain. Just mix 1 teaspoon of salt into each cup of water, heat to the warmest temperature that you can comfortably stand, and then soak the affected foot area for 20 minutes twice daily, until your infection subsides.

Prevent digestive upsets with pineapple

Got gas? One cup of fresh pineapple daily can cut painful bloating within 72 hours, say researchers at California ‘s Stanford University . That’s because pineapple is natually packed with proteolytic enzymes, digestive aids that help speed the breakdown of pain-causing proteins in the stomach and small intestine, say USDA researchers.

Relax painful muscles with peppermint

Suffering from tight, sore muscles? Stubborn knots can hang around for months if they aren’t properly treated, says naturopath Mark Stengler, N.D., author of the book, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies. His advice: Three times each week, soak in a warm tub scented with 10 drops of peppermint oil. The warm water will relax your muscles, while the peppermint oil will naturally soothe your nerves — a combo that can ease muscle cramping 25 percent more effectively than over-the-counter painkillers, and cut the frequency of future flare-ups in half, says Stengler.

Give your back some TLC with grapes

Got an achy back? Grapes could be the ticket to a speedy recovery. Recent studies at Ohio State University suggest eating a heaping cup of grapes daily can relax tight blood vessels, significantly improving blood flow to damaged back tissues (and often within three hours of enjoying the first bowl). That’s great news because your back’s vertebrae and shock-absorbing discs are completely dependent on nearby blood vessels to bring them healing nutrients and oxygen, so improving blood flow is essential for healing damaged back tissue, says Stengler.

Wash away pain injuries with water

Whether it’s your feet, your knees or your shoulders that are throbbing, experts at New York ‘s Manhattan College , say you could kick-start your recovery in one week just by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Why? Experts say water dilutes, and then helps flush out, histamine, a pain-triggering compound produced by injured tissues. Plus water is a key building block of the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones, your joints’ lubricating fluid, and the soft discs in your spine, adds Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D., author of the book,The Good Mood Diet. And when these tissues are well-hydrated, they can move and glide over each other without causing pain. One caveat: Be sure to measure your drinking glasses to find out how large they really are before you start sipping, she says. Today’s juice glasses often hold more than 12 ounces, which means five servings could be enough to meet your daily goal.

Heal sinus problems with horseradish
Latest studies show sinusitis is the nation’s number one chronic health problem. And this condition doesn’t just spur congestion and facial pain, it also makes sufferers six times more likely to feel achy all-over. Horseradish to the rescue! According to German researchers, this eye-watering condiment naturally revs up blood flow to the sinus cavities, helping to open and drain clogged sinuses and heal sinus infections more quickly than decongestant sprays do. The study-recommended dose: One teaspoon twice daily (either on its own, or used as a sandwich or meat topping) until symptoms clear.

Beat bladder infections with blueberries

Eating 1 cup of blueberries daily, whether you opt for them fresh, frozen or in juice form, can cut your risk of a urinary tract infection (UTIs) by 60 percent, according to researchers at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. That’s because blueberries are loaded with tannins, plant compounds that wrap around problem-causing bacteria in the bladder, so they can’t get a toehold and create an infection, explains Amy Howell, Ph.D. a scientist at Rutgers University.

Heal mouth sores with honey
Dab painful canker and cold sores with unpasteurized honey four times daily until these skin woes disappear, and they’ll heal 43 percent faster than if you use a prescription cream, say researchers at the Dubai Specialized Medical Center in the United Arab Emirates . Raw honey’s natural enzymes zap inflammation, destroy invading viruses and speed the healing of damaged tissues, say the study authors.

Fight breast pain with flax
In one recent study, adding 3 tablespoons of ground flax to their daily diet eased breast soreness for one in three women within 12 weeks. Scientists credit flax’s phytoestrogens, natural plant compounds that prevent the estrogen spikes that can trigger breast pain. More good news: You don’t have to be a master baker to sneak this healthy seed into your diet. Just sprinkle ground flax on oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce or add it to smoothies and veggie dips.

Cure migraines with coffee (or Aniseed + Cumin)
(Though Coffee has been recommended here, I cured my acute migraine by eating equalquantity mixture of white aniseed and cumin, a tea spoon full after every day for 4 months. It is over 15 years now that I never had migraine. During early 1980s, I started having migraine. I consulted neurosurgeon and the neurophysician but had no relief and it aggravated to the extent that I used be in agony for 3 to 5 days on each attack. By chance I met an old collegue who used to have acute migraine. On asking he told me of this treatment that had cured his migraine)

Whatever over-the-counter pain med you prefer, researchers at the National Headache Foundation say washing it down with a strong 12- ounce cup of coffee will boost the effectiveness of your medication by 40 percent or more. Experts say caffeine stimulates the stomach lining to absorb painkillers more quickly and more effectively.

Tame leg cramps with tomato juice
At least one in five people regularly struggle with leg cramps. The culprit? Potassium deficiencies, which occur when this mineral is flushed out by diuretics, caffeinated beverages or heavy perspiration during exercise. But sip 10 ounces of potassium-rich tomato juice daily and you’ll not only speed your recovery, you’ll reduce your risk of painful cramp flare-ups in as little as 10 days, say UCLA researchers.