B U L L E T I N

Happy New Year!

1. New Year Message - A purposeful life – Huffington post
2. A Note about Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney and Fox News –request
3. Note about Bridgette Gabriel’s comment on Fox News – upon request
4. American Muslims are proud of taking the right step - Link
5. Moderate Muslims Speak out? Link

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

God's Warriors - You Tube

God's Warriors - You Tube Links

Below is the 'New York Times' review:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/21/arts/television/21warr.html?ex=1345348800&en=947247068e448e68&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Television Review 'God's Warriors'
By NEIL GENZLINGER
Published: August 21, 2007

Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, is more tour guide and history teacher than reporter in “CNN Presents: God’s Warriors,” and that makes this ambitious look at three flavors of religious fundamentalism less than it could be.

This three-part series, which begins tonight on CNN, is a fine primer on the emergence of strains of Judaism, Islam and Christianity that want to fuse politics and religion, and have shown a willingness to blow things up and kill people to do it. But too often Ms. Amanpour relies on talking heads rather than on actual representatives of these groups, and when she does get a live specimen she rarely bores in with hard, blunt questions. Maybe that’s by design; the point seems to be to describe rather than challenge. Still, given the waves these movements are making, it would be nice to hear their leaders talk about what specifically they have to offer the world.

Tonight’s opening installment, “God’s Jewish Warriors,” seems particularly timid, spending more time than necessary on clips of the Six-Day War and other familiar historical episodes. The warriors are Jews who have forcefully pushed settlements into areas even the Israeli government has placed off-limits, making political inroads at the same time. We’ve already heard quite a lot from these people; Ms. Amanpour’s most interesting contribution is a segment on the fund-raising in the United States that supports them.

“God’s Muslim Warriors,” tomorrow, is sharper, with Ms. Amanpour finally showing some aggressiveness, on the issue of women’s rights under radical Islam, brashly confronting leaders about things like stonings. But mostly she’s polite and lets her subjects stay in their comfort zones. The most compelling interview in the segment is not with a radical but with a former radical, Ed Husain. And it turns out he’s just hawking a book.

In Part 3, “God’s Christian Warriors,” on Thursday, the focus shifts to the United States and its electoral politics. The issues on these Christian warriors’ minds seem positively quaint next to the agendas of the people in Parts 1 and 2. The episode includes the final interview with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died in May.

GOD’S WARRIORS

CNN, tonight at 9, midnight and 3 a.m., Eastern time; 6, 9 and midnight, Pacific time.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN chief international correspondent; Andy Segal, Jen Christensen and Steve Goldberg, contributors; Kathy Slobogin, managing editor; Mr. Segal, Michael Mocklar and Ken Shiffman, senior producers; Cliff Hackel and Dave Timko, directors, editors and producers; Brian Rokus, Ms. Christensen and Julie O’Neill, producers; Jody Gottlieb, executive director of CNN Productions

The following are youtube links to all parts of the program.

Jewish (10 parts)

Part # 1 http://youtube.com/watch?v=kkKhPLAyDsM
Part # 2
http://youtube.com/watch?v=g47YAGodTs0&mode=related&search=
Part # 3
http://youtube.com/watch?v=vN0S0FsE_Sw&mode=related&search=
Part # 4
http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZPa9Q6YN9HU&mode=related&search=
Part # 5
http://youtube.com/watch?v=r1QKb7Sp40o&mode=related&search=
Part # 6
http://youtube.com/watch?v=oAAmhFkZvkE&mode=related&search=
Part # 7
http://youtube.com/watch?v=j9HnqC541l0&mode=related&search=
Part # 8
http://youtube.com/watch?v=KdFir1MOVKg&mode=related&search=
Part # 9
http://youtube.com/watch?v=mIjUP7Xw_3Y&mode=related&search=
Part # 10
http://youtube.com/watch?v=EsgrG-84nBo&mode=related&search=


Muslims (11 parts)

Part # 1 http://youtube.com/watch?v=xh7WkyaeRBg
Part # 2
http://youtube.com/watch?v=snKtyovqWno&mode=related&search=
Part # 3
http://youtube.com/watch?v=NCEQLxKXUl0&mode=related&search=
Part # 4
http://youtube.com/watch?v=1Y0d4JfPQHU&mode=related&search=
Part # 5
http://youtube.com/watch?v=9mVwooXM9Iw&mode=related&search=
Part # 6
http://youtube.com/watch?v=29IdBQDmv00&mode=related&search=
Part # 7
http://youtube.com/watch?v=aJ5MlkInAtc&mode=related&search=
Part # 8
http://youtube.com/watch?v=2Lzy6pGkEqo&mode=related&search=
Part # 9
http://youtube.com/watch?v=KgCwH6VqmRU&mode=related&search=
Part # 10
http://youtube.com/watch?v=NBmmpM9t75w&mode=related&search=
Part # 11
http://youtube.com/watch?v=9igkCXGEFoI&mode=related&search=

Christians (11 parts)

Part # 1 http://youtube.com/watch?v=orG59apfX9I&mode=related&search=
Part # 2
http://youtube.com/watch?v=uZjFs7ybny4&mode=related&search=
Part # 3
http://youtube.com/watch?v=5IuGgfEqpIE&mode=related&search=
Part # 4
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Vc-jlPEP0Dg&mode=related&search=
Part # 5
http://youtube.com/watch?v=1mz3bUIlzOc&mode=related&search=
Part # 6
http://youtube.com/watch?v=lguc7MVV0C0&mode=related&search=
Part # 7
http://youtube.com/watch?v=xU_tHCclmb8&mode=related&search=
Part # 8
http://youtube.com/watch?v=iq3hJE2bBSg&mode=related&search=
Part # 9
http://youtube.com/watch?v=cNkAFOx5KUI&mode=related&search=
Part # 10
http://youtube.com/watch?v=FaDxUs4-52s&mode=related&search=
Part # 11
http://youtube.com/watch?v=bvgNOmI4Yqs&mode=related&search=

Fighting the fanatics

Fighting the fanatics
Mike Ghouse, August 25, 2007


Ashwin Ahmed's write up is right on the money. As a true journalist he has stayed away from being judgmental and has presented different views of each person.

In our group discussions and forums we have treated each person with dignity and due respect, because we believe that diversity of thought ensures that the truth is not buried or hush-hushed. Criticism of a practice brings out the best justification or a blockade for such practice. Our openness to such debates brings nothing but goodness, we need not fear facing issue, however controversial they might be.

Irshad Manji and Asra Nomani are trying to find answers for genuine questions they may have, and that is their God given right. If we cannot help them, we should not be a hindrance either. Where as the approach by Wafa Sultan, Ayan Hirsi Ali and Taslima Nasrin is shaped by their bitter personal experiences, they are way too eager to blame everything on religion. They lose the credibility with people in general and all claims to reform fall flat on the face, however, they do have a few points that needed to be responded.

Neither you nor I are willing to change because some one tells us that they don't like the way we smile. To bring a change one has to be an insider or have empathy with the people whom he/she intends to change. All the great reformers were part of the reform and not an outsider. Mahatma Gandhi's words would have made no sense, had he said "get rid of untouchability" sitting in a distant palace. He was part of the society and lived by example. Wafa, Ayan and Taslima can learn a lesson from the Mahatma.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town
______________________________________________

Fighting the fanatics
26 Aug 2007, 0239 hrs IST,TNN

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/Rest_of_World/Fighting_the_fanatics/articleshow/2311084.cms
The attack on Taslima Nasreen again highlights how Islam is being hijacked by extremists. Ashwin Ahmad profiles three women who, despite death threats, are fighting for change.

Asra Nomani

A former journalist and author, Asra Nomani’s name causes sharp divisions within the Muslim community. While some praise her attempts at helping women become aware of their rights, others see her as a shameless publicity hound, who loves to court controversy. A founder of the Islamic feminist movement, Nomani has been fighting since 2003 for women to be allowed the right to enter mosques by the same entrance as men, pray alongside them and even lead prayers.

On this reason for her stand Nomani says "When I learnt that a woman Umm Waraqa—led women and men in prayer at the time of the Prophet Mohammed, you should know I had spent a lifetime being told the opposite. I was told I couldn’t enter a mosque and when I was allowed in I had to be in the basement or a dark corner."

Ironically, Nomani spent most of her professional life as a journalist writing on issues other than Islam. But the gruesome murder of close friend and colleague Daniel Pearl in Pakistan changed her outlook. Determined to ''save’'her faith from extremists, Nomani went to Mecca. After her return she found herself being harassed as she tried to step into mosques, determined to pray alongside men.

Her stance got her recognition of the unwelcome kind. Her family was ostracised by the local community and hate mail and death threats for Nomani poured in. "My mother received a call, where the caller threatened to slit my throat."Thankfully for this single mother, her family remained her anchor.

Despite the threats, Nomani has persevered, and managed to create some change. In 2005, her friend and co-founder of the Islamic feminist movement Amina Wadud led a mixed congregation in prayer at a mosque in New York.

"Organising the prayer was a moment of empowerment for me. Women are so often the spiritual and religious heads of households. Yet it is rare in a home that you see her lead her son in prayer. Somehow we have divined that he will lead her in prayer."

Nomani has also conducted what she calls 'Freedom Tours'which involve groups of Muslim women scholars travelling across the US to conduct prayer meetings.
But not everyone is convinced. Critics say her crusade was part of a campaign to publicise her book Standing Alone in Mecca. They add that there is good reason for men and women to pray separately — so that they are not distracted by the opposite sex. But despite what they say, more and more women are leading the faithful in prayer. All thanks to Asra Nomani.

Irshad Manji

Even though she has been honoured as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, a lot of people still aren’t ready to listen to Irshad Manji. A brief look into her background will explain why. The first problem is Manji’s book The Trouble with Islam Today. In the book she talks about the inferior treatment of women in Islam, Jew bashing and the lack of ijtihad or critical thinking within the Muslim community today.

Add to this the fact that Manji is openly gay and you begin to understand why some people and organisations hate her; others even want her dead. Small wonder then that her home in Canada is equipped with a security system and bulletproof windows.

Manji talks candidly about reconciling her sexuality with her faith. She says, "I acknowledge that the Koran contains passages implying homosexuality cannot be tolerated. It also contains passages implying that Allah knows what He is doing when he designs the world’s breathtaking diversity. In addition to the verse that says, 'God makes excellent everything He creates,'there are other verses that say, 'God creates whom He will'and nothing God creates is 'in vain.'How do my critics reconcile those statements with their condemnation of homosexuals?"

Manji also feels Muslims have a duty to battle for their freedom to think about Islam and issues concerning Muslims. Why, she argues, should Muslims allow extremists to place a bounty on Salman Rushdie’s head while ignoring the number of honour killings that take place within Muslim families across the world each year? Why are Muslims using the sensitivity of religion to prevent introspection? Manji feels it’s because today Muslims "are confusing dogma with faith."

It is to counter this that she has launched Project Ijtihad. The project aims to ''bring liberal Muslims and non-Muslim allies together’'to discuss issues like homosexuality, marriages between Muslims with non-Muslims, and the reclamation of women’s rights in Islam —- a subject close to Manji’s heart. It also offers Muslim women in poor countries microcredit loans. "This will hopefully help the women to become literate, teach their children, and help them start their own schools."

But while many people praise Manji for her outspokenness —- her book has got positive reviews in the New York Times, there are others who feel otherwise. Critics charge her with ignorance about Islam’s history and Arabic, which make her unaware of the wider debates within Islam.

Her open admiration for Israel, which she has in the past praised for its free press and freedom of expression, has also raised hackles. According to Manji, some of her detractors have dubbed her ''worse than Osama bin Laden.’'
It’s not just extremists. Manji’s book has come in for criticism from 'liberal'quarters as well. Tarek Fatah, founding member of the Muslim Canadian Congress and an initial supporter of Manji, has turned hostile.

On the book, Fatah comments in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper that ''Manji makes Muslim haters feel secure in their thinking.’'Manji retorts through the same paper, "Mr Fatah feels the book was written by the Jews for the Jews... My thanks to him might be for revealing just how deep the trouble with Islam is today."

Wafa Sultan

Hero and reformist for some, pawn and Islamophobe for others, Syrian-American Wafa Sultan has been admired and reviled in equal measure. But love or hate her, you cannot ignore this psychiatrist’s importance. Named last year in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people, Dr Sultan is someone who has become a much sought after spokesperson on Islam, at least in the west.

Sultan’s meteoric rise to fame began when she appeared on Al-Jazeera television on February 21, 2006. Debating with Dr Ibrahim Al-Khouly, a lecturer at Egypt’s Al-Azhar university, she made some comments that immediately got her global attention.

"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilisations...It’s a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another that belongs to the 21st century," she argued forcefully on the show.

Her comments were distributed in an online clip on youtube by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) where an estimated one million people viewed it, and instant fame — or infamy, depending on one’s point of view — was the result. Interviews with CNN, LA Times and the New York Times followed and today, most debates in the west on Islam include the views of Wafa Sultan.

Sultan’s reasons for her attack on a faith which she once followed go back to events in her personal life. In 1979, when she was a student at the University of Aleppo in Syria, gunmen belonging to the radical group, the Muslim Brotherhood, burst in and shot her professor before her eyes. This act, says Sultan, caused her to question and finally abandon Islam. She now declares herself to be simply "secular."

Her critics insist that no such incident took place at this time at the university. They also believe the MEMRI clip was edited out of context to make her look impressive and provide a pro-Israel slant.

With such a history, it’s no surprise that Sultan’s name causes passions to run high on both sides of the ideological fence. In a recent online debate on Sultan, blogger Firozi Fali wrote: "How often do you see an Arab woman voice a critique of Islam right in the Islamic heartland, on mainstream Arabic-language TV? Not very often would be my guess."

Countering this, fellow blogger Dr M wrote: "There’s nothing remotely courageous about regurgitating orientalistic nonsense on a satellite connection. No Muslim worth his or her salt would babble such neocon nonsense."

While such charges may be unfounded, there is no denying that Sultan’s comments have earned her the admiration of the Jewish community, who describe her as the "voice of progressive Muslims". Last year, she accepted an invitation by the American Jewish Congress to visit Israel.

Such actions ensure Sultan will continue to remain a controversial figure. Add the fact that she’s working a book on Islam and you know the world will continue to hear more about Wafa Sultan.

ashwin.ahmad@timesgroup.com

Friday, August 24, 2007

Appeal to Homeland Security

Appeal to Department of Homeland Security
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/08/appeal-to-homeland-security.html

One of the most cherished values of our nation is "liberty and justice for all". Sometimes, we overlook what the liberty really means and step on it occassionally. We hope Michael Chertoff will consider the new law that contradicts this principle and he will get the people involved in he decision, that which affects them.

Please read the petition below and sign your name to support, yet another appeal to repeal the law that undermines our liberty.

Mike Ghouse, President
Foundation For Pluralism
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, TX 75234
www.FoundationforPluralism.com
________________________________________

Stop Religious Profiling in US Airports

Michael Chertoff
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff,

We are writing to you because we are very concerned about a recent policy shift in screening procedures for the Sikh turban in United States airports. It is our understanding that on August 4, 2007, the Transportation Security Administration ("TSA") changed a longstanding policy on security screenings, recommending that passengers with turbans be pulled aside for secondary searches. This means that millions of Sikh travelers will be singled out based on their religious practice, violating the spirit of religious pluralism that is a founding principle of this country.

We request that you meet with representatives of the Sikh community and other concerned communities to resolve our concerns. We want to work with TSA to develop a policy that will balance the nation's security concerns with the civil rights of those who wear religious headdresses.

As you may be aware, Sikhs are required to wear turbans as an article of their faith. The turban, worn over unshorn hair, signifies a Sikhs' commitment to God, justice and to uphold the principles of her faith. Touching a Sikh's turban is a significant affront to her religious practice. In its new policy, the TSA equates searching turbans to searching a cowboy hat or a beret. This is unacceptable. A turban is a form of religious garb, not a fashion statement.

TSA officials have admitted that the new policy, which specifically cites turbans as an example of headwear that could be used to conceal "threat items," was not thoroughly researched. Nobody responsible for this policy thought it necessary to familiarize themselves with the turban, or even confirm that a "threat item" could indeed be hidden in a turban. Nevertheless, without consulting the concerned communities, and with minimal guidance offered to their TSA screeners, the TSA's new procedures were implemented nationwide.

The TSA has also kept the new screening procedures a secret. This leaves affected communities without a meaningful opportunity to comment upon the policy, or understand how their religious practice may be affected when flying. In addition, the policy on its face is vague and gives screeners unwarranted discretion to engage in possible religious profiling. According to over two dozen reports received by the Sikh Coalition so far, it is clear that TSA field officers nationwide are interpreting the new procedures broadly to target Sikh turbans. This religious profiling also puts an official stamp of approval on the public's stereotyping of Sikhs, Muslims, Arabs and South Asians as terrorists.

Again, we request that you take up this matter urgently, and meet with our community groups to resolve the concerns raised by this new policy. While we fully appreciate the Department of Homeland Security's need to protect our citizens, the practical implementation of this policy means that screeners are conducting religious profiling. We strongly encourage the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider their implementation of these new procedures.

We thank you for your immediate consideration of this matter, and look forward to receiving your response.

Sincerely,

The Sikh Coalition, undersigned co-sponsors and concerned citizens worldwide

Please click the following link and do the needful:
http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1607/t/380/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=304.

Co-sponsors

Asian American Justice Center
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF)
Darbar-e-Khalsa
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Maryland
International Institute for Gurmat Studies
Legal Access Network for South Asians
Sikh Council on Religion and Education
South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT)
World Muslim Congress
Foundation for Pluralism
___________________________________________

From: Neha Singh [mailto:]
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2007 1:29 PM
To: Amardeep Singh
Subject: Your Help is Needed: Sign on as a Co-Sponsor By Noon Sunday

Dear Friends,

We are writing to request that you sign on to the attached petition letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, expressing our opposition to the TSA’s new headwear screening policy that effectively requires TSA screeners to conduct mandatory secondary screenings of all religious turbans.

The TSA’s new procedures reflect a reversal of longstanding policy that allowed for religious turbans to be screened only if they indicated a potential threat. The new policy is unacceptable because

1) it specifically lists the turban as an example of headwear that can be subjected to secondary screening at the discretion of the screener;

2) the new procedure and guidance on how to implement them have been kept a secret;

3) the procedures (given the limited information on them released to the public) are disturbingly vague;

4) the new procedures were created without consulting any Sikhs or Sikh organizations.

Thank you to those of you who have already reached out for us. Please let me know as soon as possible, preferably by noon on Sunday, August 26, 2007, whether your organization will sign on to the petition as a co-sponsor. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me at the number below

Please also send out the link to our petition to your respective email lists and/or relevant listservs. The petition is available online at http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1607/t/380/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=304.

If you’d like further information, please see the update and community advisory attached below.

Thank you all for your support at this difficult time.

Kind regards,

Neha Singh

Advocacy Director / Staff Attorney
The Sikh Coalition
40 Exchange Place, Suite 728
New York, NY 10005
Ph: 212.655.3095 (ext. 84)
Fax: 212.208.4611
www.sikhcoalition.org
To learn more about the Sikh Coalition, watch: http://alsolikelife.blip.tv/file/17779

Policy Update:

Here’s what we know about the TSA’s new screening procedures for religious headwear: Our meeting with TSA officials in Washington, D.C. yesterday was very troubling. We were told that the TSA’s new policy, intended to target “non-metallic threat items,” allows individual screeners to decide whether they believe someone’s headdress may be able to conceal such an item. That means that 43,000 individuals nationwide who are charged with our security, but have very little idea of what goes under a turban or how to pat it down, now have the right to freely profile everyone that walks through a metal detector with something on their head in US airports. Whether or not a metal detector sounds an alarm, we are told, is irrelevant. Individual TSOs have the right to pull aside anyone with headgear that they think is suspiciously spacious.

Even more outrageous is that the official guidelines accompanying the new policy explicitly cite Sikh turbans as an example of something that could hide a threat item. When asked, the Assistant General Manager of the TSA’s Office of Security Operations admitted that nobody in his office had actually checked whether something could be hidden inside a turban. By leaving community groups out of the decision-making process, the TSA chose to forego adequately researching their new policy. In addition, no cultural sensitivity training has been provided on the topic; no safeguards have been implemented to ensure that this policy achieves its purpose without infringing on anyone’s civil rights. Since the language of the policy is still a secret, we have no idea how broadly it will be interpreted, and whether it can also be expanded to include hijabs, skullcaps or other forms of religious headdress.

While the TSA went to great lengths to explain that the policy is not a mandatory pat-down, but allows for screener discretion, officials seemed oblivious to the fact that in practice, they had just given their employees the right to profile anyone they choose. According to dozens of reports received by our office, TSA officers around the country are implementing this as a mandatory turban pat-down procedure. Saying that religious turbans are an example of something that could contain a terrorist weapon also acts as an official stamp of approval on the turban = terrorist assumption that so many people already make about Sikhs. Not to mention the fact that non-metallic items can be hidden anywhere else on the body as well – your trouser pockets, under your t-shirts, or in your socks. Why then target people for wearing cloth on their heads instead of patting down anyone in a pair of pants?

I’ve also attached below a copy of the advisory we sent to community members yesterday, informing them of what we learned at the meeting.


From: The Sikh Coalition [mailto:updates@sikhcoalition.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 8:36 PM
To: pritpal@sikhcoalition.org
Subject: TSA Confirms New Airport Turban Search Policy

neha@sikhcoalition.org, pritpal@sikhcoalition.org, updates@sikhcoalition.org,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Muslims Stand with Darfur

Muslims Stand with Darfur
Mike Ghouse, August 18, 2007


Indeed, as a Muslim, I have written a similar piece and have continued to write urging Muslims to speak out against injustice and the genocide.

I have made this appeal time and again for Muslims and every human on the earth to take time to understand this crisis; nearly half of a million people have been killed and more than 2 million innocent Citizens have been displaced and it is a shame if we sit in silence, and in another note, I wrote that to regain our lost moral grounds, we have to express that we stand for justice.

This disgusting act of apparent silence of Muslims has a additional shameful turn to it - it is the Muslims killing other Muslims and this is where we need to speak out most. We have to condemn this barbarism, first because as Muslims we have to speak out even if it is against our own family members. Justice is the most important element of world peace. If there is an organization doing something about it, please join them, one such group is www.Savedarfur.org

We have to speak out and speak up when there is injustice no matter where and to whom. That is the least we can do. I am glad the Jewish organizations have taken this up and we support them.

The Arab reluctance on the issue is wrong, even if they think Jews are taking advantage of this situation, they should have simply joined the voices of Justice on Darfur. May be this would have been an opportunity for Israel to ponder over its’ own apartheidic policies.

When it comes to majority of Muslims who are not Arabs, they have raised voices against Darfur genocide, they have spoken, but they are not given the voice in the media, that does not mean they have not.

By the way, Savedarfur organization that we support has not listed our organization, despite three follow ups and requests via emails and additional phone calls. I am sure there are plenty of Muslim Organizations who support these efforts out of conviction for Justice, but because either they are Muslim they are not listed to make it appear that there is no Muslim organization and feed the wrong information to the writers around the world. I do not understand if they have other reasons, I have copied the emails to some of my Jewish friends to let them know about this as well.

Mike Ghouse, President
World Muslim Congress
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, Texas 75234 - USA

www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
www.FoundationforPluralism.com
Down below, I have included a few comments from Jerusalem post for your review
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=2&cid=1186557478093&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

14. Genuine Muslim Moderates
Mike Ghouse - USA
08/19/2007 17:58
There are millions of Muslims who speak out, but their voices are not heard, nor are published. If you bash the Imams, Saudi or Islam, you will get your foot in the door, but that is wrong. In the US Muslims have purged all hate sermons. The experts need to prove it that it is there. http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/06/hate-sermons-from-pulpit.html

15. Moderate Muslim
Mike Ghouse - USA
08/19/2007 19:57
Irwin You can count the number of extremists on CNN and FOX, they repeat the same guys day in and out. Join the Muslim discussion groups and find the truth yourselves, no doubt there are extremists but you'll find out that when some one rears its head more of the moderates are ready to pounce on those few. Y'll find we are developing good checks and balances http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/08/indian-muslims-visiting-israel.html Mike Ghouse

16. no genuine moderates?
Mike Ghouse - USA
08/19/2007 20:00
Ronda, I am surprised at the broad brushing Arabs, there are moderates and extremists every where. Just as the Israeli moderates do not speak up as much, so are the Arab Moderates. If Moderates quite pussy footing in Israel and Palestine, the peace is imminent.

Column in Jerusalem Post on Darfur". http://www.mideastyouth.com/2007/08/17/column-on-jerusalem-post-on-darfur/Author:

RandallJonesComment:

Mike Ghouse you wrote,"By the way, Savedarfur organization that we support has not listed our organization, despite three follow ups and requests via emails and additional phone calls."This is just one of many examples to show that the "Save Darfur" activists are doing this for political reasons rather out of concern for Black Africans. When there was a march held by the “Save Darfur” activists in Washington D.C. in 2006, they had not even invited anyone from Darfur to speak at the event. It was only after complaints were made that they decided to invite people from Darfur to speak. Also some Muslim organization were prevented fro speaking at the demonstration. Then the “Save Darfur” activists go around and complain that Muslims are not doing enough to speak out about the violence in Darfur. Why is attention only paid to the Sudanese refugees in Chad but not those in Egypt? Only when something negative happens, then attention is focused on Egypt. Let’s not forget that Egypt has also taken in Iraqi refugees, (although it is Syria and Jordan that has taken most of the burden of the Iraqi refugees).The people crying the biggest crocodile tears for the people in Darfur are the ones benefiting the most from the deaths of millions of Congolese.By the way, millions of Iraqis have died through two invasions and sanctions. All these deaths are due to U.S. animosity to former puppet/ally Saddam Hussein. Where is the sympathy for the millions of refugees flowing out of Iraq?Why can't George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Mia Farrow, Steven Spielberg and other celebrities cry some crocodile tears for the Iraqis?The United States had helped Saddam Hussein into power and supported him, strategically and financially, when he was committing his worst atrocities. The Iraqis are scapegoats for U.S. foreign policy.See all comments on this post here:http://www.mideastyouth.com/2007/08/17/column-on-jerusalem-post-on-darfur/#comments


No Shortage of Zionist Moderates


Agree with you Fred, there is no shortage of Moderate Zionists, Neo-cons, Islamists or Hindutvadis. They are hanging out with the hard core ones, and can be easily detached, as they have a sense of seeing other point of view when they are not pressured by the hardcore extremists Zionists, Neocons and Islamists.
This Palestinian stands with Darfur
http://www.mideastyouth.com/2007/08/17/column-on-jerusalem-post-on-darfur/

Column in Jerusalem Post on Darfur
Ray Hanania (Palestine/USA)
August 17th, 2007
This Palestinian stands with Darfur
By Ray Hanania
Jerusalem Post August 15, 2007

One would hope that what is going on in Darfur would bring people together. Instead the tragedy has blurred moralities because it has cast ethnic black Africans as victims of Arab oppression.

Rather than subdue Sudan, the Arab League has stood by doing nothing, except to argue that bringing up the Arab aspect of the conflict is wrong. And why should the Arabs act when the United Nations - where Arab clout is practically non-existent - has done so little?

The UN is characteristically shackled by larger political forces which have stymied plans to create a truly international force over four years of worthless rhetoric.

Although Muslims around the world are quick to champion Muslim rights, even when they are “Muslim wrongs,” there is a cultural hesitancy over Darfur driven by racism; the victims, who are mostly Muslim, are “Abeds” - the Arabic word for “slave,” which, when used in this context, is equivalent to “nigger” in English.

Much of the movement to protect the persecuted black Africans in Darfur from the Sudanese government’s militia allies, including the notoriously brutal Janjaweed, is based in the West, where good causes make for great celebratory music festivals, fabulously huge fundraisers, and news media coverage for headline-addicted Hollywood types.

THE JANJAWEED were unleashed by Sudan’s government to repel a rebellion in Darfur, although the Sudanese claim they have no ties to or control over the Janjaweed. Yet the best that a spokesman for the government of Sudan can do is to blame it all on the Jews. During an interview with a Saudi newspaper, Sudan’s defense minister, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, accused “24 Jewish organizations” of “fueling the conflict in Darfur.”

Hussein brushed off what the rest of the world decries as genocide as the result of “friction between farmers and herders and shepherds.”

Sudan’s response sits well with many who would love to distract attention from the atrocities by claiming the negative publicity is being generated by a Jewish conspiracy. The logic goes that Jews are only too happy to help because Darfur refugees are not Palestinians but black Africans oppressed by Israel’s sworn enemies, the Arabs.

EVIDENCE CITED by Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein and other Sudanese officials is that often heading up the do-gooder campaigns such as Save Darfur are an array of Jewish American organizations. Actually, I counted nearly 50 US Jewish groups in the coalition.

Yet overlooked is the presence of many Arab American and Muslim American organizations, too, including the Arab American Institute, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Muslim American Society (MAS), American Islamic Congress (AIC), American Islamic Forum, and the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA).

Not included, however, is the largest Arab grassroots organization, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).

Many of the 78 Arab American newspapers have run stories that reflect Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein’s line of thinking.

SAVING DARFUR is not a cornerstone of Arab or Muslim American concerns, and I suspect that even the involvement of many of the Arab groups participating in the coalition is related to politics; knowing full well that if they are not part of the effort, the Jews might turn Darfur into one big bash-the-Arabs (and Palestinians) campaign.

But I ask: Is there anyone who just cares about the lives of innocent people? Can’t we just help people without blaming things on “the Jews,” or “the Arabs,” or “the Muslims?”

Sudan is no different than any other country in the world. The rich get richer, living off the enormous profits of the oil industry, while the poor get poorer, struggling to survive with dwindling food and water.

Why should the Arab-Israeli conflict play a role in the Sudan crisis? It may be true that US Jewish organizations are seizing an opportunity to cast the Arabs in a bad light. But on the other hand, why bother when Arabs are already portrayed so negatively in the Western news media?

Even if Jewish leaders may be enjoying the drubbing the Arab reputation is taking in Darfur, are the Sudanese government and Arabs in general saying the Jews started the fight there?

From a Palestinian standpoint, I know it is exactly troubles like these that harm our cause.

But we are undermining our cause if we insist that the world not pay attention to other crises as bad or far worse than our own.

The first people who should be standing up to tell the Sudanese government to stop oppressing innocent people and to disband the Janjaweed are the Arabs, Muslims, and especially the Palestinians.

The writer is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist, author and stand-up comedian. www.hanania.com

Three Movies - 3 Religions

Three Movies - Three Religions
Mike Ghouse, Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I am pleased to share the following:
  1. The Clash between faith and politics on CNN Starting today, Tuesday, August 21
  2. Cities of Light: An Intriguing Documentary - The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain
  3. Islamic Spain - history's refrain - Christian Science Monitor
  4. Religious Pluralism
  5. 11th Hour

Mike Ghouse
http://www.mikeghouse.net/


http://www.calendarlive.com/tv/cl-et-cnn21aug21,0,6472540.story
TELEVISION & RADIO
The clash between faith and politics
By David Bauder

August 21, 2007

NEW YORK -- Christiane Amanpour's work on the documentary series "God's Warriors" took her directly to intersections of extreme religious and secular thinking.

She watched, fascinated, as demonstrators in San Francisco accused teenagers in the fundamentalist Christian group BattleCry of intolerance in a clash of two cultures that will probably never understand each other.

Understanding is what Amanpour is trying to promote in "God's Warriors," airing in six prime-time hours on CNN. The three-part series on religious fundamentalism among Christians, Muslims and Jews runs tonight through Thursday.

Many people know only stereotypes of these true believers, even the ones in their own country, she said.

Yet it's vital to be familiar with their thinking given the growing importance of these movements in the war on terrorism, the never-ending conflicts surrounding Israel and conservative politics in the United States.

"I'm not interested in drumming up false fears or falsely allaying fears," CNN's chief international correspondent said by phone from France, where she added last-minute touches to the series. "I just want people to know what's going on."

Amanpour traveled extensively over eight months to work on the series. The trips to Amanpour's native Iran are most fascinating. She explored the ancient roots of the conflict between Shiites and Sunnis and talked with one of the country's most accomplished female politicians about how Muslim women are treated.

Another segment tries to explain why so many devout Muslims are willing to give their lives to a cause.

"To the West, martyrdom has a really bad connotation because of suicide bombers who call themselves martyrs," she said. "Really, martyrdom is actually something that historically was quite noble, because it was about standing up and rejecting tyranny, rejecting injustice and rejecting oppression and, if necessary, dying for that."

Finishing the project didn't leave her with a sense of fear over the implications of stronger fundamentalist movements.

"I did come away with a sense that we -- or those people who don't want to see religion in politics and culture -- if we don't look into it and see what is going on, we're in danger of missing it and not being able to react to it properly," she said.

Amanpour was one of the last reporters to talk to the Rev. Jerry Falwell. She interviewed him a week before he died about the legacy of the Moral Majority, the organization that thrust evangelical Christians onto the political stage.

The segment on Christians explores BattleCry in some depth, digging at the roots of an organization that fights against some of the cruder elements of popular culture and urges teenagers to be chaste. In noting how girls at some BattleCry events are encouraged to wear long dresses, Amanpour asks the group's leader how it is different from the Taliban.

In a nonjudgmental way, she visits a family that is home-schooling its children and explores the influence of Evangelicals on the courts.

"There is so much nuance, so much information, so much to talk about, by no means were we able to talk about it all," she said, "and by no means do I claim this is the definitive project. It is one of the fullest, one of the most ambitious and one of the most complete."

Amanpour, 49, is no longer CNN's most visible reporter, as she was when skipping from one war zone to another. She received a lot of attention for her documentary "In the Footsteps of Bin Laden" last year and said she's enjoying the opportunity to put day-to-day news in greater perspective.

She has frequently criticized American television networks, including her own, for not spending enough time on international news.

That hasn't changed. "I believe [the audience] wants to know more than our bosses or superficial focus groups would have you believe," she said.

Amanpour was recently named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. She's leaving her home base of London to move to New York with her husband, former State Department spokesman James Rubin.

"This is really a personal move for my husband, who has lived eight years out of his own country and wants to come back," she said.

--

'CNN Presents: God's Warriors'

Where: CNN

When: 9 tonight, Wednesday and Thursday

http://themoderatevoice.com/media/review/14646/cities-of-light-an-intruiging-documentary/


Cities of Light: An Intriguing Documentary
By Michael van der Galien
When I returned from vacation, there were several books waiting for me to read (and review). I published a post listing all of them. Books, however, were not the only thing sent to me: I also received a screener for the documentary Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain, scheduled to debut on PBS on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 at 9PM. After reading the introduction which accompanied the actual documentary, I could not wait to watch it. It seemed – to put it mildly – like a fascinating subject, about a place and time most of us do not know much about. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

Although the makers certainly had an agenda – convincing the viewer that multiculturalism can work and that we can learn from the situation in Spain during the Middle Ages and before Christians ‘reconquered’ it – one has to admit (even a fierce critic of multiculturalism such as me) that they made a good case and that they did not hide the downsides of the society of al-Andalus. When different groups fought against each other, when fundamentalists tried to take control over cities or villages, the documentary spends attention to it and explains when things went wrong and why.

Islamic Spain was, in the words of the introduction and the documentary confirms it, “the one civilization of pluralism and interfaith cooperation that for a few centuries lit the Dark Ages in Medieval Europe.” After Muslims conquered a large part of, what we call Spain today, they decided not to force their religion on others; instead, they proved themselves to be tolerant. People of other faiths had to pay extra taxes and accept the authority of the Muslim government, but that was about it.

The documentary pays attention to the rulers – in reenacted scenes – who tried to make this complicated society work. One of the most effective rulers was Abdul Rahman III. When the Muslims had just taken over, they were more busy fighting each other for a few decades, than with building a tolerant, thriving society. Until Abdul Rahman the Third took over, that is. He enforced order, made friends and declared himself Caliph (rightful heir to Mohammed). More importantly, he also turned Al-Andalus into a little paradise on earth.

Abdul Rahman III was, according to the documentary, a man far ahead of his time – at least according to European norms that is. He was tolerant towards Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. He also encouraged men of great intelligence to study the works of the ancients and to, by doing so, improve society. He talked to Christian European leaders, accepted their representatives to his court and he sent ambassadors of his own to European kingdoms. Instead of sending people of his own religion – as was normal at that time – Rahman III chose to send Christians to represent him.

He also allowed people of other religions to make a career for themselves. According to Cities of Light, one of the greatest scientists (and poets) of that time and place was… a Jew.
Not only does the documentary show us reenacted scenes, key to the explanation of how they lived and what the political structure was like, are experts. Several experts weigh in. Obviously history experts, but also Islamic scholars and a Jewish scholar. The last one convincingly explains that, at that time, it was better for Jews to live in Al-Andalus – under Islamic rule – than under Christian rule. Christians often persecuted Jews, in Al-Andalus, on the other hand, they were free and even allowed to make a great career for themselves.

The documentary argues not just the above: it also proves that the seeds of the renaissance were laid in this time. The Muslims in Al-Andalus studied the works of the ancients, and their translations and explanations then spread throughout both the Muslims and the Christian world – and that is nothing to say about the tolerance and the prominent role poetry played in this modern yet ancient society.

Since all men are sinners, the relative haven of tolerance and religious cooperation had to come to an end. A violent end. More and more both Muslims and Christians were influenced by their less tolerant co-religionists and violent clashes occurred moe and more. Then, the Muslims invaded Constantinople – a tremendous loss for Christian Europe. The response: Christian Kingdoms united and ‘reconquered’ Al-Andalus (or Spain). Soon religious tolerance disappeared and the once multicultural society of Al-Andalus was nothing but a vague memory in the minds of the men and women who once lived there.

Well, vague, the documentary constantly uses poems of people who either lived in Islamic Spain or who remembered it by story telling (cultural inheritance). These poems are often quite strong – the emotions – and make the viewer aware of how terrible the loss was to the Muslim empire. They remembered Al-Andalus for its tolerance, peace and beauty. They remembered it as the ultimate society.

When I say beauty, I mean it. The documentary makers remade some important places (like palaces) and show us how the rulers (and other people) lived. When Christian leaders came to visit the Caliph, they were more than impressed by what they saw. Where Christian Kings lived in cold palaces, without much beauty, Al-Andalus was a haven of green and fountains. Beautiful, no awesome mosques were built, amazing palaces were constructed, and – above all – they had running water: something Europeans did not have.

As said, it all had to come to an end. The experts – and by now even the viewer who might be a critic of multiculturalism – are filled with sadness and regret. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but fact remains that the loss of Al-Andalus as a highly tolerant society, was not just a loss to the Muslim empire, but to humanity itself.

The main point of the producers (and of the experts who all seem to agree with each other which is one of its main weaknesses) is that as long as people of different faiths respect and accept each other(‘s differences), society can flourish. Even more so, the example of Al-Andalus shows that only open societies can flourish: when society – irrelevant what kind of religion – closes itself to other societies (of other religions), it is in the very real danger of stagnation and even degradation.

When watching Cities of Light one cannot help but to agree with that thesis, at least partially. What the makers sadly forget to address is how to behave once one of the religions falls hostage to fundamentalists and, therefore, becomes intolerant. More, one can also wonder whether any multicultural society can last. When we look at history, we see examples of multiculturalism, and Al-Andalus is a prime example of it, but if we look at the fate of these societies and especially of Al-Andalus, is it not fair to conclude that perhaps – sadly – multicultural societies are doomed to failure because, in the end, man becomes intolerant since intolerance (evil) is in our nature?
And that, that is one of the questions I have asked a producer of Cities of Light. The interview will be published ASAP. In the meantime, you all should not forget to tune into PBS coming Wednesday at 9PM to watch this enlightening documentary. Questions remain, but this documentary is quite important: in the larger debate about Islam and about multiculturalism we sometimes forget to look at the good sides – besides that, often the Islamic empire is made out to be ‘evil’ in Western books or we simply do not know anything about it – it is time to change that. History is not all black and white.

For more information about Cities of Light please visit Unity Productions Foundation website.
Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain
Producer / Director: Robert Gardner
Executive Producers: Alexander Kronemer & Michael Wolfe
Narrator: Sam Mercurio
S

cholars:
- Lourdes Maria Alvarez: Director of the Center for Catalan Studies and a professor of Spanish at Catholic University in Washington, DC.
- Brian Catlos: Associate Professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
- Ahmad Dallal: Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and Chair of the Arabic and Islamic Studies Department at Georgetown University
- D. Fairchild Ruggles: Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf: Founder and CEO of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA Society) and Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a mosque in New York City
- Mustapha Kamal: Currently a lecturer in Arabic, Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies, at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he focuses on instruction of Arabic language and literature
- Chris Lowney: Former Jesuit and author of A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Medieval Spain
- David Nirenbergs: Charlotte Bloomberg Professor of the Humanities in Medieval History at John Hopkins University
- Raymond P. Scheindlin: Professor of Medieval Hebrew Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary and Director of JTS’s Shalom Spiegel Institute of Medieval Hebrew Poetry ____________________________________

Islamic Spain: History's refrain

from the August 22, 2007 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0822/p09s02-coop.html
Islamic Spain: History's refrain
It's a model for interfaith ties, and a warning about religious division.
By Alexander Kronemer

Washington

The past sometimes provides examples of glory and success that serve as models. Other times, as the philosopher George Santayana said, it warns of impending calamity for those who do not learn from it.

For the past several years, I've been immersed in a history that does both. As one of the producers for an upcoming PBS documentary on the rise and fall of Islamic Spain, I've witnessed its amazing ascent and tragic fall countless times in the editing room, only to go home and watch some of the same themes playing out on the nightly news.

Islamic Spain lasted longer than the Roman Empire. It marked a period and a place where for hundreds of years a relative religious tolerance prevailed in medieval Europe.

A model for religious tolerance
At its peak, it lit the Dark Ages with science and philosophy, poetry, art, and architecture. It was the period remembered as a golden age for European Jews. Breakthroughs in medicine, the introduction of the number zero, the lost philosophy of Aristotle, even the prototype for the guitar all came to Europe through Islamic Spain.

Not until the Renaissance was so much culture produced in the West. And not until relatively recent times has there been the level of pluralism and religious tolerance that existed in Islamic Spain at its peak. Just as the vibrancy and creativity of America is rooted in the acceptance of diversity, so was it then.

Because Islam's prophet Muhammad founded his mission as a continuation of the Abrahamic tradition, Islamic theology gave special consideration to Jews and Christians. To be sure, there were limits to these accommodations, such as special taxes levied on religious minorities. But in the early Middle Ages, official tolerance of one religion by another was an amazingly liberal point of view. This acceptance became the basis for Islamic Spain's genius. Indeed, it was an important reason Islam took hold there in the first place.

When the first Muslims crossed the straits of Gibraltar into Spain, the large Jewish population there was enduring a period of oppression by the Roman Catholic Visigoths. The Jewish minorities rallied to aid the Arab Muslims as liberators, and the divided Visigoths fell.

The conquering Arab Muslims remained a minority for many years, but they were able to govern their Catholic and Jewish citizens by a policy of inclusiveness. Even as Islam slowly grew over the centuries to be the majority religion in Spain, this spirit was largely, if not always perfectly, maintained.
Pluralistic though it was, Islamic Spain was no democracy. After years of enlightened leadership, a succession of bad leaders caused the unified Muslim kingdom to fragment among many smaller petty kingdoms and fiefdoms.

Though they competed and fought, the spirit of pluralism continued. Indeed, it thrived as rival kings sought the best minds in the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish worlds for their courts. This was just as true in the Christian petty kingdoms, as the Muslim ones. Christian and Muslim armies even fought alongside each other against mutual rivals of both faiths.

It is at this point that the darker parallels to our time begin. Into the competition for land, resources, and power, some leaders on both sides began to appeal to religion to rally support for their cause. Wars became increasingly religious in nature. Into this tinderbox a match was thrown: the Crusades – the same term that many Arabs use today when referring to America's adventure in Iraq.

The Crusades deepened Spain's religious divide. Minorities in both Christian and Muslim kingdoms become increasingly suspect. Persecutions, expulsions, and further warfare ensued. Nothing could stop it, not even the black plague.

Ultimately, Christian kingdoms gained the upper hand as the Muslim kingdoms of Islamic Spain fell. Spain's Muslims and Jews were forced to either leave or convert. This led to the rise of the Inquisition, whose purpose was to verify the loyalty of suspect converts. The expulsions and inquisitions racked Spain economically, culturally, and morally. Its power was severely compromised. The fall of pluralism in Spain was the fall of Spain itself.

Dark parallels with today
This fall directly links to events today and raises many of the same stakes. Though few Americans note it, one of Osama bin Laden's justifications for the 9/11 attacks was to avenge the "tragedy" of Islamic Spain.

So far, the post-9/11 world and the policies it has spawned seem to be heading in the same dangerous direction as witnessed before. The religious intolerance that engulfed and overwhelmed medieval Spain threatens the increasingly beleaguered pluralism of our own time.

At its best, the history of Islamic Spain is a model for interfaith cooperation that inspires those who seek an easier relationship among the three Abrahamic faiths. At its worst, it's a warning of what can occur when political and religious leaders divide the world. It reminds us what really happens when civilizations clash.

• Alexander Kronemer is a writer, lecturer, and documentary producer focusing on religious diversity, Islam, and cross-cultural understanding. His film "Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain" premieres on PBS Aug. 22.
Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links

____________________________________


Religious Pluralism

http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/2007/08/religious-pluralism.html
Monday, August 20, 2007

Bill Berkowitz and Barry Lynn seem to think that the idea of a modern evangelical meeting with Muslim theologians is a novel idea. Perhaps they missed all those debates with Aquinas on transcendence? Or perhaps they missed the more recent discussions that Ravi Zacharias has had with Muslim theologians?

Whether ancient or modern, it's not at all novel. But what is encouraging is that it happened. Hopefully more meetings will occur and progress towards peace can be accomplished. Something that Mr. Berkowitz (and Jane Hunter) missed is clear:

"We also found interesting Jonathan Falwell's and Benny Hinn's discussion of 'religious freedom' in the Arab world from their customary vantage point, rather than as pluralism that could benefit Arab societies. But why should we be surprised at that, given the Christian right's lack of interest in pluralism here at home?" Hunter said.
What he missed is that the discussion necessarily entails religious pluralism, empirical pluralism. (Because Ann Coulter is right -- secular pluralism (secular liberalism) is based on rationalism -- it's Godless.)

Mr. Berkowitz also bemoans the lack of women in the meeting. The empirical pluralist holds the orthodox to a standard that the religious pluralist does not hold. They are necessarily intolerant of orthodoxy and are certainly not the pluralists they claim to be.

Dr. D. A. Carson deals with this inconsistency in granting liberty by the empirical pluralist in his work The Gagging of God. It seems that the secular pluralist's hermeneutic has forgotten some imortant characteristics of history -- the place of Natural Law within our system of laws. (Yes, this means that our Constitution's constitution, it's essence, came out of a Christian world view, not a simple atheistic, rationalistic, secular motive. If that were the case, Natural Law would not have been part of the founders' discussions.)


The result is that different interpreters, judicial and otherwise, handle such expressions quite differently. Many appeal to the phrase "Laws of Nature" in the first sentence of the Declaration. The second sentence provides a definition: human beings are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights," including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Others point out that none of this is preserved in the Constitution, which neither mentions God nor includes such general "rights." Moreover, persuaded by the arguments of Leff, cited above, they think there is no place for a "natural lawa" reading of the Constitution. But perhaps most argue in an ad hoc fashion, well illustrated in a brief essay by Michael Kinsley. Kinsley is quite sure that Justice Thomas could abuse his bleief in "natural law," yet at the same time he argues:

All this is not to say that natural-law concepts have no role to play in constitutional interpretation. Many people, for example, find it hard to understand why freedom of speech must be extended to Nazis and others who do not believe in free speech themselves and would deny it to others if they could. The answer is that the Bill of Rights is based on the theory of natural law, not on the alternative theory of a social contract. You are entitled to these rights simply because you are a human being, not because you have agreed, literally or metaphorically, to honor them.


Though Carson's analysis of Kinsley is not a positive one (evaluating his inconsistent hermeneutic) it remains (and I think it is correct) within Kinsley's statement that the presence of Natural Law has an unarguable historic foundation in our system.

So why should the empirical pluralists over at TalkToAction be opposed to a meeting such as this? Why does this type of religious pluralism even matter to them? It's a matter of control. Whether real or perceived, there is the perception of an impending theocracy once people of these varieties of faith transcend the capabilities of government, authority, and militarism.

Should these meetings help theologians of all stripes return to the conditions pre-WW I, where Christian, Jew, and Muslim could live together peacefully in the region, that would be a threat to the authoritians of the Left. The failure of the Marxist eschatology has forced the Left to retreat to a more Hegelian approach, and that requires a strong government. Whether the neo-Liberal or neo-Conservative, the perceived threat of a revived evangelicalism and Catholicism threaten the dominance of today's dying Liberal world. Religious Pluralism is nothing new.

Imam Feisal in 11th hour movie

In recent times, tremendous effort has been put into increasing awareness on issues of global warming. A new film, The 11th Hour with Leonardo DiCaprio, aims to bring more light to environmental issues by presenting the opinions of reputable experts who urge action.

To include the Islamic perspective on the issue, the filmmakers interviewed Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Speaking on the full-length DVD version of the film, Imam Feisal outlines an Islamic perspective on climate change, citing Muslim standards of individual accountability in environmental conservation. As caretakers of the earth, he says, humans have a special responsibility to be its safeguards. Even as we drive to eliminate world poverty and improve living conditions for our own kind we must never forget the well-being of that which sustains us.
We invite you to see the film The 11th Hour (now in theatres) and to bring your friends and family along. There can be no better educational, motivational, and inspirational experience on the subject of our era's most weighty challenge.
To view the trailer for The 11th Hour, please click here.

To learn more about the film's environmental campaign, please click here.
Salaam

The ASMA Society Team

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Indian Muslims Visiting Israel

INDIAN MUSLIMS VISITING ISRAEL
Mike Ghouse, Dallas , Texas – August 15, 2007

On the occasion of India ’s 60th Independence Day, as an Indian American and a Muslim, I wholeheartedly welcome the Indian Muslims delegation in Israel. We cannot achieve peace without facing each other, talking with each other, shaking hands with each other and breaking the bread together. Another Indian legend Mother Teresa had said “if you want peace, talk with your enemies and not your friends” a good advice to Jews and Muslims alike.

We have to break the stereo types that we unintelligently ascribe to each other, in this particular situation “Muslims are out to get Israel and Jews are merciless “. It is as wrong as the flatness of the earth. The first step towards peace is cleaning up our minds towards each other.

The world’s dynamic equilibrium was going out of synch when fascism was taking root in the early nineties, the governments cradled in democracies were losing the essence of the idea of government of the people by the people, it was rather becoming “government of the oligarchs.” Thanks God, the changes are on the horizon, the unilateralists are fading and the silent majority is taking the steps to speak up.

The world peace is not someone else’s responsibility; no one can live safely if the world around him/her isn’t. It is each one’s responsibility to strive for a better world and a world of co-existence. We are encouraged with the bold steps by Hazrat Maulana Jameel Ahmed Ilyasi, who has led the delegation of Indian Muslims to Israel .

"We are coming with the message of peace and goodwill from Indian Muslims who believe in the Indian tradition of resolving issues through dialogue and peaceful means,” said Hazrat Maulana Jameel Ahmed Ilyasi and continued “Our visit to Israel will be historical in terms of developing a dialogue between Judaism and Islam in the Indian subcontinent, where more than 40 percent of the world Muslim population lives. Interaction with both Palestinian and Jewish sisters and brothers and their religious leadership will lay a solid foundation for future engagement," Maulana llyasi said .

The American Jewish Committee reported that when the Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger visited India and met with the Muslim leaders, a joint declaration was made by the parties “that while relations between Muslims and Jews have deteriorated in the course of the last century as a result of political factors, “It is high time for the religious leaders of both sides to engage in dialogue and use their collective influence to stop the bloodshed of innocent civilians. Rather, we need to condemn killings, reject extremism, and the misuse of religion for acts of violence. Suicide is a forbidden act in Islam and therefore suicidal attacks can not find sanction.”

True leadership is recognition of what will work, and leading the people, despite the hurdles, to the right end goal. Truth ultimately triumphs, as we call it Satyameva Jayate in Sanskrit, Gandhi believed in it and led the nation to freedom from the greatest empire on the earth, despite every possible hurdle you can imagine. His commitment was un-wavering and many finally saw the light, at the end.

It is all about good will and a genuine desire for peace. We hope this step encourages other groups to take similar steps and Israel to reciprocate the goodwill with a firm commitment like Gandhi’s.

Each day, we have to wrap up with a question "What have I contributed to peace in me and around me?". If the answer is positive, then you'd sleep well.
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/08/indian-muslims-visiting-israel.html

Mike Ghouseis a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of theFoundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hindu Temple Executives

PRESS RELEASE:
Hindu Mandir Executives of America
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Dallas, August 13, 2007 – We are pleased to share the resolutions of the Hindu Mandir Executives of America. Indeed, we are committed to the notion of what is good for one has got to be good for others and vice-versa. The foundation for peaceful and prosperous societies hinges on freedom and justice for all, after all, we are created by the same creator. Indeed, we are pleased to see the Hindu Prayers included in the US Senate as well as the California State senate and we hope, the plurality of the Americans and encourages participation from every faith practiced in the US and Canada.
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The statement was released today by Mike Ghouse, President for the Foundation for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress, committed to building pluralistic societies and opening our hearts and minds towards fellow beings..

Hindu Mandir Executives of America meet in Edison, NJ

Hindu Mandir (Temple) Executives representing 97 temples and Hindu Organizations from more than 25 states of US and Canada and Caribbean converged in Edison, NJ, to attend the second Hindu Mandir Executives Conference (HMEC), from August 10, 2007 through August 12, 2007. They traveled from as far as British Columbia in Canada, Hawaii, California, Florida, and the heartland of America, with a mission to nourish, protect and sustain Hindu Dharma in America.

This very successful HMEC-2007 follows the first ever such Conference of Executives of Hindu Mandirs held in Atlanta, GA, in June 2006, which was attended by representatives of 57 temples from all over North America.

The executives represented a wide cross-section of the Hindu community. These attendees who numbered over 200, were physicians, scientists, businesspersons, homemakers, engineers, etc. besides being temple executives with deep commitment to fulfilling the spiritual and social needs of Hindu-American community. The group was diverse in terms of age, race, generation, as well as national origin. A 29 year old Mandir President represented the Hindu Youth at the Conference.

Addressing the temple executives from across the country, Swami Dayananda Sarawati of the 'Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam', who was the keynote speaker, emphasized that the Hindu Mandirs should be halls of learning for the Hindu youth besides being the altars of worship.

At HMEC 2007, Hindu Mandir executives collectively deliberated on the evolving social, religious, cultural and spiritual needs of 2.5 million strong, confident, diverse and vibrant Hindu-American community. The conference had some parallel sessions for the youth representing temples from across the nation.

In the concluding session of the Conference, the delegates agreed on a series of action items and passed the following resolutions unanimously for consideration of their temple's boards.

Resolution 1
We, the Hindu Mandirs of America:

Commend the US Congress in general and Senator Harry Reid in particular for taking the courageous act of inviting Shri Rajen Zed to perform the invocation for Senate session with a Hindu Prayer.

We will work together, and work with public institutions to enhance the presence of Hindu traditions in public sphere.

Resolution 2
We, the Hindu Mandirs of America:

Will work together and with US Governmental agencies to ensure that the upcoming eligibility criteria for issuance of R1 Visa by US authorities Hindu "religious workers" does not adversely impact the operations and effectiveness of Hindu Mandirs.

Resolution 3
We, the Hindu Mandirs of America:

Agree to adopt and promote within the US school system the Hindu Dharma supplement published by Hinduism Today. An action committee shall be constituted to enhance the dissemination and sustenance of this effort.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Muslims demand an apology

Muslims demand an apology from MIM.
Let not this behavior go unaccounted.

Mike Ghouse, August 10, 2007


“We were all set to kill her”, said Majidullah Khan about Taslima Nasrin. It is an atrocious condemnable statement. it is time to reflect and figure out how to prevent this from happening now and in future.

The incident happened in Hyderabad, India on August 9th. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM) has warned that it will not allow Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin to go back alive if she dared to come back to the city while the Majlis Bachao Tehreek claimed that their plan to kill her was foiled by the MIM attack.

"We are very proud of our MLAs and activists who assaulted her," said MIM leader and Member of the State Legislature Akbaruddin Owaisi. "We will implement the fatwa issued against Taslima if she comes to the city again."

Killing or threatening to kill is a crime in India, punishable by a life sentence to life itself. The above named men in their misplaced fervor claim to represent Islam while Islam forbids killing an individual. Qur’aan 5:32, “Because of this did We ordain unto the children of Israel that if anyone slays a human being-unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth-it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.”

As Muslims of India and the Muslims around the globe, we urge Mr. Owaisi and Mr. Farhat apologize to not only Ms Nasrin but the Muslims of the world for the audacity of insulting them by speaking in their behalf without their permission. These misguided individuals should be indicted for threatening to kill, under the Indian penal code.

As Muslims of India and Muslims around the globe, we urge Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy and Home Minister K. Janardhana Reddy to ask the MLA to resign from the Legislature for violating the spirit and the word of the constitution of the Republic of India.

Taslima Nasrin is a rebellious writer and raises her voice when something appears unjust to her. We do not condone many of her provocative statements. However much we may disagree with her; her right to speak must be defended. We are a democracy and in a true functioning democracy, criticism ought to be cherished, as it keeps the leaders on their toes. Islam has a built-in system to incorporate new ideas through discussion and consensus called Ijtihad. She is in essence calling for Ijtihad, whether some consider her to be a Muslim or not, does not matter, the issues do matter.

Hecklers, all over the world are unwelcome, however, the test of decency and civilization is to allow free speech. Often they indulge in cat calls of stupidest statements, no matter what race, nation, or status they have including some presidents, but occasionally they do bring in important points to the dialogue, where many voices are not being heard.

When the Movie, ‘Passion of the Christ” was released, members of the Jewish community were wary of the release, fearing an increase in anti-Semitism. A Danish newspaper printed cartoons that were disparaging of the Prophet Muhammad, causing a disruptive few to create havoc around the globe in the name of Islam. When the movie Water was released, Deepa Mehta was castigated by many Hindus for the portrayal of widowed girls being forced into prostitution, the cast and crew was vandalized by a few in the name of Hinduism. President Carter released a book about the apartheid treatment of Palestinians (both Christian and Muslim Palestinians) in Israel, he is being harassed, even in the model American democracy, a few are intolerant.

US Congressman Tancredo called for Nuking Mecca, The Rev. Pat Robertson called for assassination of Hugo Chavez the President of Venezuela because he is a severe critic of Bush Policies. Intolerance is on the rise all over the world, Muslims have their own share, no single group has monopoly on intolerance. No society or a culture is ever perfect.

These are the dynamic values constantly changing with interaction within and without the various societies and sub-cultures. Screaming at Taslima, Deepa, Mel, President Carter or Tancredo will not make the problem go away. The right of free speech protects all of us, but it is not free speech to incite murder to suppress free speech.

There are a lot of injustices in the world; Free speech allows us to have our say to struggle against the perceived injustices. Justice is the key to peace for a nation or a community, without which peace is in peril.

Whether it is coming from Salahuddin Owaisi, Bal Thackeray or any one else, they should be answerable in the court of justice, file a law suit for a public threat or disturbing the peace. Let's take a principled stand on all the issues; if it is good for one, it has got to be good for others. Let justice be the corner stone of our democracy.

Solution:

File a law suit against Mr. Owaisi and Mr. Farhat for inciting and threatening to kill another human being. Let’s put the blame squarely on the wrong doer and not his family, town, culture or his religion. If we make the mistake of giving them a religious label, that in itself is inciting hatred. The mistakes were made by those men and not their religion.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town


Continuous Updates below:

Indian penal code that they can be charged - August 11, 2007
Islam does not condone gangsters - August 10, 2007
Taslima and her technicolor boat - August 11, 2007
Muslim intellectuals condemn -August 10, 2007
Attacks on Taslima Reprehensible - August 10, 2007
They could have killed her - August 10, 2007

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INDIAN PENAL CODES

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hasni, thanks for the forward about today - Indeed, we have the penal codes to sack the members of MIM and clear the branding of Muslims or Islam with such acts of individuals.

TIMES OF INDIA


Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen's fresh threat on Friday that it would "not spare" Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen the next time she visited Hyderabad compounded the crime its MLAs and activists had committed when they attacked her at a book release function. They can be prosecuted under following provisions of IPC: -

Section 503 defining criminal intimidation. "Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person ... with intent to cause alarm to that person or to cause that person to do any act ... or to omit to do any act ... as the means of avoiding the execution of such threats, commits criminal intimidation." -

Section 506 penalising criminal intimidation: "Whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years ...; and if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt ..., shall be punished with imprisonment ... which may extend to seven years." -

Section 350 defining criminal force: "Whoever intentionally uses force to any person, without that person's consent, in order to the committing of any offence, or intending by the use of such force to cause, or knowing it to be likely that by the use of such force he will cause injury, fear or annoyance to the person to whom the force is used, is said to use criminal force to that other." -

Section 351 defining assault: "Whoever makes any gesture, or any preparation intending or knowing it to be likely that such gesture or preparation will cause any person present to apprehend that he who makes that gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force to that person, is said to commit an assault." -

Section 352 penalising assault or criminal force: "Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any person ... shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months ..."

Section 355: "Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any person, intending thereby to dishonour that person ... shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years ..." -

Section 120B penalising criminal conspiracy to commit any illegal act. The offender will be punished as if he had abetted that crime. -

Section 153A: "Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation, promotes or attempts to promote on grounds of religion .., disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious ... groups ... shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years."

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Islam does not condone Gangsters
Mirza A. Beg, Friday, August 10, 2007


The attack of Tasleema Nasreen in Haydrabad, India and threatening her life is one more example of the impotent rage by religious bigots, because they find themselves incapable of living the ideals of their religion, and meeting the intellectual challenges.

I have not read the writings of Tasleema Nasreen, a citizen who has been chased from her native Bangladesh, currently living in India. Therefore I have no opinion on her writings. For the sake of discussion let us assume that what her detractors say is correct about her writing. It should not be difficult to prove her wrong by writing rebuttals, most of all by living the humane tenets of Islam. They do not seem to have faith in their own capabilities, or the greatness and grandeur of Islam to with stand small pin-pricks.

They find the low road of violence easy to take. It is uncivilized and un-Islamic, behavior, of brawn over brain. Intimidation and extortion are the only values they understand and practice. They neither read nor understand the humane attitude of the Prophet Muhammad, who did not attack those who insulted him, and there were many in Mecca at the time, who did. He returned the insults with visits to the sick with kind words. When he returned triumphant to Mecca, he did not punish any one who had not been guilty of cruel violence.

They obviously are in violation of the Indian penal code for attack on Ms. Nasreen and threatening her life, but emotionally they have insulted Islam much more than the detractors of Islam or Ms. Nasreen ever could, because they sully the name of Islam by acting in its name.

It is unfortunate that while India is making great strides towards modernity, many in the provincial legislators are criminals or support criminal behavior. Bal Thakary in the name of Hinduism has held the whole state of Maharashtra and its great city Mumbai ( Bombay) hostage as his fiefdom and has engineered riots where hundreds of people have been killed. Modi, who is still the chief minister of Gujarat has used the levers of power to kill and deprive minorities of their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

With this backdrop when three Muslim legislators from Hydrabad condone threats on the life of a woman whom they accuses of insulting Islam or Yaqub Qureshi from UP feign to put up a bounty for the killing of Danish editorial Cartoonist, the Indian government and the legal system finds itself hamstrung and fears accusations of the persecution of minorities.

These people are not only insult to their own religions they are an insult to the rule of law under the elegantly designed Indian constitution. They exploit the raw baser emotions of the populace for self aggrandizement. Tolerance of opinions is the hallmark of civilization and great religions. By not bringing such criminals to the bar of justice, not only the religions are insulted, but most of all it injures the Indian Republic and the rule of law. The country as a whole and the weaker sections of the society eventually pay grim price.

I urge the Government of India and the state governments to bring the legislators from Hydrabad and all others who indulge in patently illegal and unconstitutional activities to the bar of justice.

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Taslima and her technicolor boat
By Farzana Versey


Well, here is a interestingly balanced piece on Taslima Nasrin.

Let's keep the two issues separate... One was about the reactions of those few Muslims invoking the name of Islam for their bad acts and the other one is completely a different issue - it is Taslima Nasrin herself.

The first one' action do not sound like the acts of Islam; the Prophet prayed for goodwill of those miscreants who threw stones on him.

The MIM people used the name of Islam as though all Muslims had approved and given them the right to speak for Islam, and as though that fatwa against Taslima is endorsed by Muslims around the world.

Who can speak for Islam? No one is and paradoxically each one is. We are individually judged for our acts and we should individually bear the responsibility. However, this MIM act implicates Muslims and Islam, and each one of us is responsible to untangle Islam and Muslims from these individual acts. It is quite a difficult topic and all of us have to work on it. No easy answer.

Mike Ghouse

On the Heels of Sir Salman
Taslima and Her Technicolor Boat
By FARZANA VERSEY


Taslima Nasreen, like many contemporary Muslim writers, is trying to portray the victim of religion. The best manner in which to do so since Sir Salman (before he was knighted) showed the way is through the dark Islamic tunnel. Let the pot sizzle with some concern for the backward Muslim world. Take large doses of the Quran, the veil, the Prophet and carefully carve it into little bits for easy consumption.


The problem is that Muslims are a bunch of fools. They imagine that most of these books will have an impact. They don’t. On Thursday, a group of activists from the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) barged into her press conference and apparently roughed her up. Television channels showed us this unruly mob get into a scuffle and throw bouquets of flowers still covered in cellophane. Taslima in her blue saree stood aside. No channel showed us what transpired before.


As always, they brought in a ‘conservative’ and he naturally said what conservatives do: she deserves it for constantly maligning the religion and the Prophet. The television anchor smiled and turned to the ‘liberal’ in the studio. This liberal has suddenly discovered she is a Muslim and the usual stuff about freedom of expression was dished out.


I don’t think Taslima or anyone should be physically attacked. What no one has bothered to find out, though, is that the organization that was involved is not a sanctioned Muslim outfit; not many Indian Muslims outside the city of Hyderabad have even heard about it. But, what is the message being sent out to the world? That not only are Muslims a bunch of uncouth fellows, they also beat up women. I can imagine the Western world nodding in agreement and saying, “We told you so.”


When Taslima Nasreen was not allowed to return to Bangladesh for fear for her life, she went to the West for a while. She could not adjust there, so she found solace in India. India that has been busy shunting out Bangladeshi immigrants became her temporary home. She did not have a word to say about the migrants who were being denied citizenship rights even though they have lived in India for 30 years or more.


If Taslima is all about this major literary voice being stilled, why is it that very little analysis is being done of her writings? Why is she always in the news for a perspective other than one of literary or ethical significance? Even when she wrote an autobiographical account in which several writers and political figures were mentioned, not for their role in damaging society but for sleeping with her, she was harping on freedom of speech. How different is this attitude from one of those Hollywood satellite social climbers that claim their pound of tabloid mileage and money based entirely on having had a close encounter with a celebrity? She has imprisoned her own mind and then goes out crying for escape.


Give her complete freedom and she won’t know what to do with it. She has nothing much going for her. Lajja revealed what one always suspected since that day in July 1993 when a fatwa demanding her head was pronounced in Bangladesh – that she was wallowing in quasi-historical truths to suit her convenience. She had ended her 13-day saga with false hope, “Let us go away…to India,” she made her character Sudhomoy Dutta, the sturdy secularist and patriot, say.


Does she imagine that India is some sort of Utopia? A few months ago, she had been ranting against Pakistan’s “tyrannical” yoke, quite forgetting that she lived in a different country. Of course, since she wants to make India her home, this is the best she could do. She felt that all talk of pan-Islamic or Muslim unity was essentially a myth, and nothing had shattered it more convincingly than the breakaway of East Pakistan from its parent unit in the west.

If there is no unity in the Islamic world – and most of us have been long saying so – then on what basis does she paint the whole Islamic world with the same brush? There are pockets of fanatics and she has had to deal with some. I have to belabor the point that a fatwa is an opinion by an individual or a group; it is not a sanctioned edict. If it were so, then all those who have fatwas on their heads would have been killed by now and not managed to write their life stories or create magic realism in Manhattan.


The only reason Taslima prefers India, specifically Kolkata, is the language. This is ironical. East Pakistan moved out of the ‘tyranny’ of West Pakistan largely due to the language issue. Now, she is speaking out against parochialism and perpetrating it herself.


What is she trying to prove? Her ‘humanitarianism’, which hangs round her neck like an albatross, weighty, but drawing sufficient attention to her prized position? Or is she just another writer with perfect timing and a sharp marketing sense? Take the reference to a sentence in her first book: “Most of Suranjan’s friends were Muslim. None of them thought he was Hindu.” What does this mean? Was she trying to say that a religious person could not have friends from another community? Is faith designed to make you inhuman? Then Marxists should be the most human and humane people on earth, and she herself would have written about communal harmony in the purest sense instead of sprinkling stereotypes from Bollywood movies.


If she scratched herself, she would be faced with a truth she refuses to acknowledge: She is so insecure that she feels the need to deny her antecedents. Were it restricted to a personal position it would have been all right, but she uses characters insidiously to make generalizations only in order to anoint herself as a progressive.


Shrewdly, she has selected a time when Islamic or fringe Muslim societies are going through a phase when the red alert sounds every time their names get mentioned. She has a nice bandwagon to ride on.


Farzana Versey is a Mumbai-based writer-columnist.


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Muslim Intellectual Forum condemns attack on Taslima Nasreen
Statement:


We the Muslim Intellectual Forum categorically condemn the dastardly attack on Taslima Nasreen by three MLA's of the Muslim Ittehadul Muslimeen(MiM) at a Press Conference in Hyderabad. It is an attack on the basic democratic and secular foundations of the Indian
nation.

Interestingly this attack was not led by any conservative Muslim organization, but was the handiwork of legislative members sworn to uphold the Indian constitution. Therefore this attack reeks of political motivations, both on part of the MiM and its ally the ruling Congress-I.

Apart from the fact that Taslima Nasreen's writing continues to hurt the sentiments of a vast cross-section of Muslims, but yet in a secular democracy and a free society, we need to tolerate dissent and the freedom of conscience.

A problem also lies wherein Tasleema does not understand the difference between the ethos of Bangladesh and India. Yes, in India we do have a problem of communal
carnages and the fact that Mulsims are the victims of discrimination which has now been validated by the findings of the Sacchar Committee Report. But our culture and ethos is based on the foundations of a unique secularism, based on the concept of "Sarva
Dharma Samabhava", unparallel in the world and which is evolving as we speak. This concept could provide a globalised world with certain key answers that it is
desperately seeking.

Hindus and Muslims along with their compatriots from other religions enjoy, experience, and live in a vibrant multi-religio-cultural milieu, which is very different from Taslima's experiences in Bangladesh. If Taslima's intention is to genuinely contribute to the cause of reform, she is going about it in the wrong way. She cannot achieve this by constantly
berating Muslims, their beloved Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and Islam and calling for changes in the text of the Holy Quran itself. This only reveals her utter ignorance of historical processes and the role of religion as a social force of progress in the human
quest for an egalitarian society. Little does she know that the seeds of democratic
reform are enshrined in three key Islamic tenets of Shura, Ijma and Ijtihad and she would be well advised to study these revolutionary concepts.

Also the fact lies that the issue of Taslima Nasreen is being cynically manipulated with a view to further demonise the Muslim community. It is apparent that Taslima is beholden to the Government as she is desperate for residentship, but all the Government is
willing to give her are 6 month visa extensions. Even at the time of her last extension, as one would recall, her article which was highly derogatory of the Prophet Muhammad ( p.b.u.h.), appeared in the Outlook magazine and created a national uproar.

So the government is playing its old cynical game of pandering to the communal fringes and stoking the embers so as to unsettle society. The three MLA's of the MIM who attacked Taslima in the full glare of the national media, would not have done so without the support of their party as well as the tacit backing of the their ally the Congress-I. It was on the basis of these guarantees that these MLA's were later let of lightly by the local police.

This is on the similar lines that the West, especially Britain and Blair, used the issue of Salman Rushdie to demonise Muslims and Islam. There to certain Muslims were politically illiterate enough to fall for the obvious traps.

At the time when there is a national consensus that, there has to be a national effort to draw out Muslims from the socio-economic backwardness as well as a similar support for justice for the victims of the Mumbai carnage of 1992-93, it is imperative that Muslims focus their energies on issues of national consequence.

The Muslim community would be best advised to see through the manipulative designs and ignore such minor and insignificant issues. The only democratic and civilised way to deal with Taslima is to either ignore her or answer her with the pen, violence is not an
option even to be considered. This has been the tradition and spirit of Islam. Also the democratically and politically illiterate Muslim extremist fringe would be best advised to study the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) himself and learn the basic lessons of universal peace, respect and compassion.

Recent history has shown, that a few more attacks on Taslima Nasreen will mean that she will be nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, if not win it! So we humbly request you to heed our advice.

Warm Regards
In Solidarity

Feroze Mithiborwala
(Convenor)
Asif Khan
Hanif Lakdawala
Afaque Azad
Arif Kapadia
Irfan Mulla


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Attack on Taslima Nasreen : Most reprehensible
By Dr.M.K. Sherwani, LL.D Posted August 10th, 2007



The brutal attack on Taslima Nasreen in Hyderabad once again brings to the forefront the perverted, outrageous and misconceived religious frenzy of those Muslims who lack total sensitivity to the problems confronting the community. It reflects the mental bankruptcy of those who think that the resplendent horizons of Islam can be blurred by the rubbish writings and silly utterances of the non-entities like Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen.

The worst part of this gory incident is that the mob was led by three legislators of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen whose President Mr. Salahuddin Owaisi has praised chivalry of his party men in attacking a woman. Mr. Owaisi is a type of politician, who once, while addressing a Muslim convention in Lucknow after the demolition of Babri Mosque, in his emotional outburst, declared that the Constitution of India must be thrown into Gomti ( a river which passes through Lucknow). His statement was met with strong protest from the Muslim audience and he had to leave the dais.

Further, the contention that the government of India has hurt the religious susceptibilities of Muslims by granting visa to her has no basis.

India, despite all its infirmities, inequities, conspicuous discriminations and constantly serious erosion of its secular values, remains a pluralistic and vibrant society. The vast multitudes of Hindus and Muslims believe in a peaceful coexistence and multi-cultural ethos which have not lost their significance even after the fascist forces have been making unrelenting endeavor over the last more than five decades. And, no doubt, if there is any Fundamental Right in the Indian Constitution which is equally available to all, then certainly it is the ‘FREEDOM OF SPEECH’. To buttress my viewpoint, let me quote the concluding observation by a renowned journalist Mr. Ziyaul Haque, while writing in 2000 the review of my book ‘Secular Horror – A Real Story of Fifteen years ordeal with Indian secularism’( the book is the story of my prosecution for fifteen years at Tees Hazari Court New Delhi under section 124a(sedition) on the basis of one article ‘Secularism vis-à-vis Hindu Chauvinism’ published in Radiance Viewsweekly, Delhi in 1984)

“......... Sherwani is a fire-brand, which is evident from the periodic resolutions of the All-India Muslim Forum, of which he is the president. The forum is headquartered in Lucknow. His booklet in verse, Iblees and Maulanas is a biting satire on the state of affairs in Muslim religious life.

At the end, one is tempted to ask a question: Suppose Sherwani was caught in Islamic horror, rather than its secular variant, would he have survived to narrate his experience? To be precise, had he been accused by Iran’s mullahs or Afghanistan’s Taliban for sedition, would he have lived to recount the episode? No prize for guessing.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------
'They could have even killed Taslima', say journalists
Posted August 10th, 2007 by Tarique



By IANS

Hyderabad : If Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen escaped unhurt in Thursday's attack by Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislators and cadre at the press club here, it was thanks to the journalists present.

The journalists acted as a shield to save Taslima, who was targeted by MIM activists at a book release function.

Only six media persons, mostly photographers, were covering the function as the organisers had invited only a handful of people to the function and Taslima's visit was also kept under warps.

"The legislators and those accompanying them were ferocious. Had we not intervened things would have gone out of control," Ravikanth Reddy, correspondent The Hindu, told newspersons.

Reddy, also secretary of the Hyderabad Press Club, was attending a meeting of the club office bearers in the boardroom at the time when three MIM legislators along with a few supporters barged into the hall where the function was on.

"For half hour no policeman reached the place and it was very difficult to control the legislators and their supporters who were throwing everything they could lay their hands on," Reddy told IANS.

Some missiles hit the journalists and a couple of writers and other participants who stood between Taslima and the attackers.

Innaiah Narisetti of the Centre of Inquiry, the organisers of the book release function, bled after the attack along with K.V.S. Giri, a photographer of Deccan Chronicle.

"It is because of the presence of journalists that the legislators were a bit restrained but the mood of the others was nasty. One of them was shouting 'Kill her'," said Reddy, who had tried to pacify the legislators.

"I told them not to resort to such activities in the Press Club. We have let out the premises to an organisation and it was our responsibility to ensure that no harm was caused to the participants of the function," he said.

"Though we managed to push the legislators and some others out of the meeting hall and escorted Taslima to the store room, another group of people arrived and they were more aggressive," recalled H. Satish, photographer of The Hindu.

"Taslima requested us to call the police, and I told her that the police will be reaching in a few minutes," he said.

"Anything could have happened in those 30 minutes. Fortunately the crowd was not armed. We don't know but they could have even killed her," he said.

"She came behind me to protect herself. She was really scared," said K.V.S. Giri, who received minor injuries in the scuffle. "The attackers threw books kept on the dais at her and some hit me."

Innaiah Narisetti, who saved Taslima from several missiles, termed the attack as "shameful".

"It is shameful on the part of our legislators to resort to such use of abusive language and physically attack her. They took oath on the constitution of India but their behaviour was shocking," said the intellectual.

"The attack on a woman writer is shocking but I think this will not deter her from writing for the rights of women," said V. Komala, whose Telugu translations of Taslima's book "Shodh" and Jung Chang's bestseller "Wild Swans" were released by the novelist at the function.

Meanwhile, journalists took out a rally and demanded stern action against those involved in the attack on Taslima.

The three legislators and some others arrested by the police were granted bail late Thursday by a court.