Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Glimpse from the past

Excerpts from a book by Dr Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi

Conquest of Egypt: Ubadah ibn as-Samit’s address to the Egyptian Ruler Al-Muqawqis:

Amr ibn Al-‘As was commander of the army sent to conquer Egypt during the Caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab. After the conquest Amr became Egypt’s first Islamic governor (wali).
The Muslim forces laid siege to the Babylon Fortress in 641CE (in the area known as Coptic Cairo today) where al-Muqawqis, the Egyptian Ruler was holed up. General Amr ibn Al-‘As sent a delegation of ten men, headed by Ubadah ibn as-Samit, to speak with al-Muqawqis.
Ubadah was black, and when the delegation travelled by boat to al-Muqawqis and entered his place, Ubadah stepped forward and al-Muqawqis was alarmed because of his blackness.
He said, “Take this black man away from me and let someone else come and speak to me!”
They said, “This black man is the best of us in knowledge and wisdom. He is our leader and the best of us, and has been appointed over us. We all refer to his opinion, and our leader has appointed him over us and ordered us not to go against him.”
Al-Muqawqis said to the delegation, “How could you accept this black man as the best among you? Rather he should be the least among you.”
They said, “No; even though he is black as you can see, he is the best in status among us, one of the foremost among us and one of the wisest. Blackness is not something bad among us.”
Al-Muqawqis said to Ubadah, “Come forward, O black man, and speak to me gently, for your blackness alarms me, and if you speak harshly that will alarm me further.”
Ubadah went forward and said, “I have heard what you said. Among my companions whom I left behind are a thousand men who are all as black as me, and even blacker than me and more terrifying to behold. If you saw them you would be even more alarmed. My youth has gone, but nevertheless I would not be scared if one hundred men of my enemy wanted to face me all at once, and the same is true of my companions, for our hope and our desire is to strive in jihad for the sake of Allah, seeking the pleasure of Allah.
The reason for our campaign against our enemies who wage war against Allah is not hope of worldly gains or the accumulation of wealth; rather Allah has permitted that to us and made the booty we acquire permissible for us. But none of us cares whether he has a qintar of gold or has nothing but a dirham, because all we want from this world is something to eat and ward off hunger, and a cloth to wrap around ourselves. If one of us owns nothing more than that, that is enough. If he gets a qintar of gold he will spend it for the sake of Allah and be content with the little that is left in his hand, because the pleasure of this world is not true pleasure and its luxury is not true luxury; rather real pleasure and luxury come in the Hereafter.
This is how our Lord has guided us and our Prophet has taught us; he advised us that our ambition in this world should be just to have enough to ward off hunger and cover our awrahs (nakedness); our main concern should be to please our Lord and strive in jihad against His enemies.”
When al-Muqawqis heard that, he said to those who were around him: “Have you ever heard anything like what this man is saying? His appearance alarmed me but his words alarm me more than his appearance. Allah has sent this man and his companions out to destroy the world! I think that they are bound to prevail over the entire world.”
Dr Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab his life and times,’ Vol. 2, p. 327

'Blindingly obvious' that MBS ordered Khashoggi murder

A United States Department of State official, who has seen a version of the CIA's assessment on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has said it is "blindingly obvious" that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.
"The idea that it goes all the way to the top is blindingly obvious. There's overwhelming consensus that the leadership is involved - no one is debating it within the government," the official told ABC News on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.
However, the official acknowledged that the words "probably" and "likely" are used when attributing the death to Prince Mohammed, ABC News reported, adding that the source noted that CIA analysis reports rarely include explicit conclusions.
US President Donald Trump is facing increasing pressure to take tougher measures against Saudi Arabia before the expected release of an official report into the killing.
Trump had told reporters on Saturday that a detailed report, including information about who was responsible for last month's murder of the Washington Post columnist inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, would be released "probably on Monday or Tuesday".

Report: Saudi royals turn on king's favourite son after killing

According to US media reports, the CIA has concluded that Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, ordered Khashoggi's killing.
Trump has called the reports "premature" saying he's not convinced that Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de facto leader, was directly responsible for the October 2 slaying of the writer.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has rejected the media reports, saying "such allegations about the crown prince have no basis in truth".
But there are increasing calls, both from Democrats and Republicans in Congress, for more action amid a growing consensus that MBS must have known about the operation.
"Donald Trump just says, 'Will anybody really know?' as if our intelligence agencies are incapable of making an assessment," Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said on Monday.

Jamal Khashoggi case: All the latest updates

He urged CIA Director Gina Haspel and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats to "come out and provide the American people and the Congress with a public assessment of who ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi".
Al Jazeera's Mike Hana, reporting from Washington, said the fact that the CIA assessment was "reported in so many outlets at the same time indicates that this could have been some kind of a coordinated leak".
"Some observers say that the CIA is bringing pressure to bear on the president to make the report public," he said.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Allahabad To Prayagraj: The Politics Of Name Change

BJP’s renaming frenzy—Hindu-friendly names in war against Islamic ones

Shakespeare be damned, the rose would never smell as good by any other name. Not for India’s right-wing. Not till the 2019 general elections, at least. Across India, in most BJP-ruled states, governments are changing names of cities, streets and railway stations, stripping hundreds of years of history to “reclaim” Indian culture and heritage. It’s as simple as that. Soon after the BJP-led government came to power in 2014, ‘ghar wapsi’ dominated the political discourse as Hindu fringe groups went about reconverting Muslims to their “original” faith, allegedly even forcibly. With the country set for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, now the spotlight has veered towards ‘naam wapsi’.While the phenomenon of changing names of cities is not new, the raison d’├ętre is definitely different. Major cities were earlier renamed to wipe out signs of the British Raj—Bombay became Mumbai, Madras changed to Chennai, Calcutta became Kolkata and Bangalore was renamed Bengaluru. The reason given by BJP leaders for the latest name-change spree is to cleanse what the Mughals had sullied. The intent is definitely political as the BJP tries to pit “Hindu pride” against Muslim invaders ahead of the elections.

Allahabad would be officially renamed Prayagraj before lakhs of devotees descend at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna for the Kumbh Mela in January. The legal process may have hindered the government’s plans for construction of the Ram Mandir, it has not deterred CM Yogi Adityanath—who answered to the call Ajay Singh Bisht before he became a monk—from renaming Faizabad district as Ayodhya. In August, the iconic Mughalsarai junction was rechristened Deendayal Upadhyaya junction. Before that, Mughalsarai town itself was renamed after Upadhyaya, the co-founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Emboldened by the government’s willingness to change the names of cities, towns and roads—Aurangzeb Road in Delhi was renamed A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road in 2015—demands from lawmakers and organisations are growing to rename other places.

If those demanding ‘naam wapsi’ have their way, Ahmedabad will be renamed Karnavati, Agra will be called Agrawal, Patna will be Patliputra and Pune will go by the name of Jijapur after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s mother Jijabai. Shiv Sena wants the names of Aurangabad, Osmanabad and Khultabad in Marathwada region to be renamed as Sambhaji Nagar, Dharashiv and Ratnaprabha, respectively.
BJP legislator Sangeet Som wants Muzaffarnagar to be named Laxminagar and blames the Mughals for destroying India’s culture. “The Mughals destroyed things related to Hindu religion. In 1633, a nawab named Muzaffar Ali changed the name of the town. We have to reclaim and retain our cultural roots,” Som says. Last year, he waded into a controversy, saying the Taj Mahal was built by “traitors”.
Delhi-based historian Syed Irfan Habib has no doubt that the move to change names is politically motivated. “The purpose is clear. It is to polarise the majority. Demands are being made to change Muslim names. They want to show Muslim rulers and the Mughals as symbols of oppressive rule; as raiders who indulged in genocide,” he says.
BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao denies that this name-change is symbolic. He calls it an effort towards a “cultural renaissance”; an attempt to “connect the current generation to our glorious past, and to erase the deep scars of subjugation that have badly injured our cultural psyche”.
Habib finds the argument flawed. Explaining presentism in historiography as the way of looking at the past with one eye on the present, he says, “At present, both eyes are looking at the past.”
He finds the demand to change Muzaffarnagar to Laxminagar absurd. “Muzaffar Khan was not even a king. He was just a noble who had been given the land as jagir, like many Rajputs. It’s a small sleepy town in the Doab that became important because of its rich fertile soil and proximity to Delhi, the capital even then. It was important for revenue generation,” he explains,.
About Agra—the one place that draws millions of tourists because of the monument of love—Habib says it was founded by Sikandar Lodi and has nothing to do with the Agarwal community. The Agarwal community, he adds, originated in Agroha which is in Haryana. The BJP legislator for North Agra has asked Adityanath to rename it either Agrawal or Agravan.
The historian is, however, not sure if it will reap any political benefit for the BJP as only a small section of the electorate may be swayed by such a move. Nayanjot Lahiri, professor of history at Ashoka University, believes people are not going to vote a party just because it changed some names.
“Though the name-changing is being done with a political purpose, I don’t think it will work electorally. It’s just that it will go down as part of their legacy. They are trying to remove from public domain names of places that are an integral part of our country’s history. It’s a pity. They will be judged poorly by history. They will be seen as insecure for trying to alter the historical landscape,” Lahiri says.
According to her, rather than tackling real issues and problems, the attempt is merely to grab headlines. Lahiri says if the intent is actually to right the historical wrongs, politicians seeking ‘naam wapsi’ would do well to improve the lot of Dalits. “The atrocities against Dalits are well-documented. Will they correct that at the cost of upper castes?”
It is not just historians who are uncomfortable. One of the BJP allies in Uttar Pradesh, OBC leader Om Prakash Rajbhar, who is also a minister in the state cabinet, has accused the Yogi government of doing little about real issues. “This changing of names is being done to divert the minds of backward and oppressed classes who are demanding their rights from the government,” he says. The Muslims also gave us the Grand Trunk Road, the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, he points out. “Should we do away with them too? There are a handful of Muslim leaders in the BJP. Will the party also ask Shahnawaz Hussain, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Mohsin Raza to change their names?”
The minister doesn’t see anything wrong in AMU historian Irfan Habib—not the same person quoted earlier—questioning BJP president Amit Shah’s name. Habib is reported to have said that the ‘Shah’ surname is of Persian origin and not Gujarati, so he should consider changing it. He further added that Gujarat itself is of Persian origin and it was earlier called Gurjaratra.
The founder of the Ahmedabad Community Foundation, Bhavna Ramrakhiani, also vouches for the plurality of Ahmedabad under the Sultanate. The cultural activist says members of the Hindu community held the most important position in the courts of the Muslim rulers, as has been documented by the Nagars themselves. According to her, there was a lot of assimilation of Farsi and Gujarati languages during this time. “The  Gujarati language has assimilated maximum Urdu words into it.”
In fact, says Delhi historian Syed Irfan Habib, this heterogeneity of culture is India’s strength. “To expect homogeneity in culture, food, religion, dress is dangerous,” he says, underlining that attempt is at homogenisation of Hinduism itself and this is unfortunate. “Hinduism is vast. You can go to a dargah and still be a Hindu. However, this liberty is not allowed in other religions. It is a monochromatic world for them, while there are shades in Hinduism, and that is the beauty of it,” he adds.


Another Hindutvadi fascist event in Gujarat

Under Modi, India has become a Hindutvadi fascist state where lives of non-Hindus are threatened every day. See the latest report from the  Gujarat state where BJP rules. Click here for the report.

Gujarat: Truck helper stabbed for carrying buffaloes, police arrest driver

Police have registered two FIRs — one against the driver and conductor under the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act for “illegally carrying the animals”, and second against four “unidentified” gau rakshaks for attacking the truck.

UN statement on shooting in in Ah Nauk Ye IDP camp

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ai Knut Ostby is deeply concerned about the reports of shooting in Ah Nauk Ye camp in central Rakhine which holds IDPs who fled violence in 2012. He calls for calm, non-violence and restraint. Mr. Ostby appreciates the work of the organizations which provided first aid on site to the injured. The UN will continue to monitor the situation and is committed to supporting sustainable solutions to the situation in Rakhine State. 
Yangon, 18 November 2018

Myanmar police shoot, injure four in raid on Rohingya camp

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar police shot and injured four Rohingya Muslims on Sunday, after detaining two men accused of smuggling people out of a camp for displaced people in western Rakhine state, a witness and police told Reuters.

Some 20 police entered Ah Nauk Ye camp, about 15 km (9 miles) east of the state capital Sittwe on Sunday morning, apprehending the two men accused of owning a boat used in an attempt to smuggle 106 Rohingya out of the country on Friday.

The rickety vessel, which carried 25 children among its passengers, had been bound for Malaysia when authorities stopped it south of Yangon, detaining those on board. The incident, and similar recent boat departures, have raised fears of a fresh wave of dangerous voyages after a 2015 regional crackdown on people smugglers.

Maung Maung Aye, a 27-year-old Rohingya Muslim from the camp who witnessed the shooting, told Reuters four people were injured in the incident, with two of them in serious condition.

“People from the camp went out to look and police shot at people,” he told Reuters by phone.

Police said the Rohingya surrounded them with swords and threw stones at them, injuring some officers.

“I heard that Bengali from the camp tried to grab the arrested people back from the police and police had to fire warning shots. I heard some Bengali got injured. I don’t know the details,” said police inspector Than Htay from a nearby police station.

Many people in Myanmar call the Rohingya “Bengali,” implying they are interlopers from Bangladesh.

Maung Maung Aye disputed that version of events. He said the Rohingya did not attack the police or try to grab the arrested men. He said police fired at residents and not into the sky.

Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay did not answer calls seeking comment.

It said the “natural environment” at the camp was “unsuitable to human settlement” and warned of water shortages, poor access to livelihood opportunities and communal violence.

For years, the Rohingya have boarded boats organized by smugglers in the dry months between November and March, when the sea is calm. The perilous journey to Thailand or Malaysia, often undertaken in overcrowded vessels, has cost many lives.

The 106 Rohingya detained off Yangon on Friday were put on a navy ship destined for the Rakhine camps on Sunday.

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled a brutal army crackdown in the northern part of Rakhine last year, according to U.N. agencies. U.N. investigators have accused the Myanmar army of “genocidal intent” and ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar denies the allegations genocide, saying it was battling terrorists. Attacks by Rohingya insurgents preceded the army’s crackdown that began in late August 2017.

Reporting by Shoon Naing; Writing by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Tom Hogue

Saturday, November 17, 2018

UN office warns 97 percent of ground water in Gaza is undrinkable

Electricity supply in Gaza increased up to 18 hours a day in some areas, following the provision of additional fuel to operate the Gaza Power Plant.
Only 22 per cent of patients injured during the Gaza demonstrations, who were referred for follow-up surgery in the West Bank or Israel, have been granted Israeli exit permits.
97 per cent of ground water extracted in Gaza is unfit for human consumption, generating the risk of a waterborne disease outbreak.
The number of Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians and their property during 2018 grew by 57 and 175 per cent, compared with 2017 and 2016, respectively.
During the first week of November, residents of the Gaza Strip experienced some respite from the deteriorating humanitarian situation. First, the electricity supply increased up to 18 hours a day in some areas, from 4-5 hours in previous months, following the provision of additional fuel to operate the Gaza Power Plant. Second, around 27,000 civil servants, hired by Hamas after the 2007 takeover, were paid their August salaries, while 50,000 of the poorest families began receiving an US$ 100 allocation. These developments have been made possible due to funding provided by the Government of Qatar, and following Israel’s authorization of the entry of the fuel and cash into Gaza. In addition, while the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations along the perimeter fence continue, there has been a significant decline in clashes between demonstrators and Israeli forces and a resulting decrease in casualties.

More casualties sustained during the ‘Great March of Return’ in Gaza

*This figure includes 171 Palestinians killed during the Great March of Return demonstrations and other activities and 57 killed in other circumstances.
*This figure includes 171 Palestinians killed during the Great March of Return demonstrations and other activities and 57 killed in other circumstances.
While participating in a demonstration near the Gaza fence with Israel on 6 April 2018, a university student in his mid-twenties was shot and injured in his left hip by Israeli forces. He was standing about 30-40 metres from the barbed wire fence inside Gaza territory and burning a tyre with other demonstrators.

Study warns water sanitation crisis in Gaza may cause disease outbreak and possible epidemic

USAID project of distributing potable water for vulnerable people in the North area 2017. © Photo by OCHA
USAID project of distributing potable water for vulnerable people in the North area 2017. © Photo by OCHA
A recent report prepared by the RAND Corporation warns that if the chronic state of emergency in Gaza’s water and sewage sector continues, an endemic disease outbreak or other public health crisis is imminent, with the risk of it spreading to Israel and Egypt. The projection is based on data collected by Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) partners and authorities over previous years, analysis of the expected impact of recent developments, and lessons learnt from disease outbreaks in Haiti, Yemen and Iraq. The report emphasised that cooperation between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt is vital if an epidemic is to be pre-empted.

High level of violence by Israeli settlers; rise in Israeli fatalities

Settler violence and settlement expansion in western Ramallah
Settler violence and settlement expansion in western Ramallah
The high level of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians reported during the first four months of 2018 in an earlier Humanitarian Bulletin, continued through October as the annual olive harvest began. Since the start of 2018, OCHA has documented 217 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers that have resulted in Palestinian casualties (60 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (157 incidents). As a monthly average, this is the highest level of incidents recorded since 2014 and represents a 57 and 175 per cent increase compared with 2017 and 2016 respectively (see chart).