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Declassified: Israel offered to sell nukes to apartheid-era South Africa

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Secret papers have recently been declassified that prove Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid-era South Africa.  Three key points that make this story especially juicy:

1.  The Israeli who tried to broker the deal was none other than Shimon Peres, who at that time was the Israeli defense minister and is currently the president of the country.

2.  The pro-Israeli hawks in the United States as well as in Israel have argued that Iran should be sanctioned and even invaded for trying to develop nuclear weaponry.  When critics rightfully point out that this is a profound double standard as Israel already has nukes, the hawks reply by saying that Iran (unlike the “responsible” State of Israel) cannot be trusted and that it may sell the technology to other parties. And yet here we have Israel selling nukes to not just any country but what was at that time the pariah state of the world, apartheid-era South Africa.  Israel wasn’t just trying to sell nuclear weapons to Denmark or Sweden.  Rather, it was trying to deal these weapons to–in the words that we hear so often now–“the worst of the worst.”

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3.  Perhaps the reason why Israel saw no problem in giving nuclear weapons to an apartheid state is because Israel itself is one.  Nelson Mandela, who led the fight against apartheid in South Africa, wrote of Israel:

The so-called “Palestinian autonomous areas” are bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli apartheid system…Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

According to the article below: “South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.” Said one apartheid state to another apartheid state: Rub my back and I’ll rub yours.

The Guardian reports:

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state’s possession of nuclear weapons.

The “top secret” minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa‘s defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them “in three sizes”. The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that “the very existence of this agreement” was to remain secret.

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of “ambiguity” in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa’s post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky’s request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week’s nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel’s attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a “responsible” power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

A spokeswoman for Peres today said the report was baseless and there were “never any negotiations” between the two countries. She did not comment on the authenticity of the documents.

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials “formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal”.

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked “top secret” and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: “In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere.”

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available.” The document then records: “Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice.” The “three sizes” are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the “correct payload”, reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong’s memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel’s prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with “special warheads”. Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: “It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement… shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party”.

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

The existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

How much news coverage do you think this will get? I’m guessing somewhere between virtually none and none.

And here’s another also from The Guardian:

Israel and apartheid: a marriage of convenience and military might

Secret documents revealing offer to sell nuclear warheads to South Africa cast fresh light on alliance

It’s the relationship that never was. Kept to the shadows, it was shielded behind secret agreements and disinformation that dressed up military cooperation as mining deals.

But when the spotlight occasionally flickered over one of the most intimate and enduring alliances of the postwar years, Israel was quick to underplay its deep military ties with apartheid South Africa as nothing more than a necessity of survival without a flicker of ideological affinity.

But as is shown by Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s book, The Unspoken Alliance, that relationship went beyond mere convenience.

For years after its birth, Israel was publicly critical of apartheid and sought to build alliances with the newly independent African states through the 1960s.

But after the 1973 Yom Kippur war, African governments increasingly came to look on the Jewish state as another colonialist power. The government in Jerusalem cast around for new allies and found one in Pretoria. For a start, South Africa was already providing the yellowcake essential for building a nuclear weapon.

By 1976, the relationship had changed so profoundly that South Africa’s prime minister, John Vorster, could not only make a visit to Jerusalem but accompany Israel’s two most important leaders, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, to the city’s Holocaust memorial to mourn the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Neither Israeli appears to have been disturbed by the fact that Vorster had been an open supporter of Hitler, a member of South Africa’s fascist and violently antisemitic Ossewabrandwag and that he was interned during the war as a Nazi sympathiser.

Rabin hailed Vorster as a force for freedom and at a banquet toasted “the ideals shared by Israel and South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence”.

A few months later, the South African government’s yearbook described the two countries having one thing in common above all else: “They are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples.”

A year earlier, Israel had offered to sell South Africa nuclear warheads.

“South Africa’s leaders yearned for a nuclear deterrent – which they believed would force the west to intervene on their behalf if Pretoria were ever seriously threatened – and the Israeli proposition put that goal within reach,” Polakow-Suransky says in the book.

The deal did not go through but there was plenty of other cooperation in the development of military technology.

Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to Pretoria who headed his foreign ministry’s South Africa desk in the 80s, once told the Guardian that gold-rich South Africa funded the joint military projects and Israel provided much of the technical knowledge.

“After 1976, there was a love affair between the security establishments of the two countries and their armies,” he said. “We were involved in Angola as consultants to the [South African] army. You had Israeli officers there cooperating with the army. The link was very intimate.”

By the late 1970s, South Africa was Israel’s single largest customer for weapons.

Polakow-Suransky establishes that the relationship was so intimate that in the mid-1970s, South Africa lifted the safeguards supposed to govern how the yellowcake was used to prevent nuclear proliferation.

In return, Israel sent South Africa 30 grams of tritium, which gives thermonuclear weapons the boost to their explosive power. The delivery was enough to build several atomic bombs, which South Africa did in the coming years.

Peres was central to the relationship. He was defence minister at the time of Vorster’s visit to Jerusalem and twice served as prime minister during the 1980s as the alliance with the apartheid government solidified.

Five years ago, I asked him about the morality of ties with the white regime.

“Every decision is not between two perfect situations. Every choice is between two imperfect alternatives. At that time the movement of black South Africa was with (PLO leader Yasser) Arafat against us. Actually, we didn’t have much of a choice. But we never stopped denouncing apartheid. We never agreed with it,” he said

And a man like Vorster?

“I wouldn’t put him on the list of the greatest leaders of our time,” said Peres.

Yet attempts by the man who is now Israel’s president to portray his country as forced in to a reluctant alliance with an ideological foe are undermined by his enthusiastic expressions of common ideals.

In 1974, Peres wrote to the South African information minister, Eschel Rhoodie, speaking of the “unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and our refusal to submit to it”.

Peres was not alone. Rafael Eitan, the former Israeli military chief of staff, was among those who spoke of his sympathy for the white regime’s position. So did Ariel Sharon, the future prime minister.

In the late 80s, as international pressure on the apartheid government grew, Israel’s political leadership decided it was time to retreat. But Liel said that the security establishment balked.

“When we came to the crossroads in 86-87, in which the foreign ministry said we have to switch from white to black, the security establishment said, ‘You’re crazy, it’s suicidal’. They were saying we wouldn’t have military and aviation industries unless we had had South Africa as our main client from the mid-1970s; they saved Israel. By the way, it’s probably true,” he said.

And from BBC News:

Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu jailed

Mordechai Vanunu, the technician who revealed that Israel had nuclear weapons, has begun a three-month jail term for violating the terms of his release in 2004.

Mr Vanunu was convicted by an Israeli court in December 2009 and sentenced to six months’ community service.

He refused, saying he would be in danger of being assaulted by a member of the Israeli public.

The court then returned him to jail instead.

Mr Vanunu spent 18 years in jail for revealing the existence of the clandestine Israeli nuclear programme.

Before being led away he shouted “You didn’t get anything from me in 18 years; you won’t get anything in 3 months. Shame on you, Israel.”

He was arrested on suspicion that he met foreigners, violating conditions of his 2004 release from jail.

His lawyer said his arrest was because of his relationship with his Norwegian girlfriend, not for revealing secrets.

After his release from prison in 2004, the Israeli authorities banned Mr Vanunu from speaking to foreign media and travelling abroad.

In 2007, Mr Vanunu, a Jewish convert to Christianity, was sentenced to six months in prison for breaking the conditions of his parole.

Here’s Glenn Greenwald doing an awesome job talking about this double standard (although I’m sure he’d have a lot more to say now that this news of Israel dealing nukes came out):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEuxel6Fv-0[/youtube]

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Dr. Hashmi was born and raised in California. Apart from medicine, he enjoys writing about “Islamic topics,” which he does under a number of online aliases. Dr. Hashmi is proud to be one of MM’s more liberal-leaning writers, providing controversial and highly opinionated views.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Indigo Jo Blogs — Israel and old South Africa made ready allies

  2. Avatar

    Sayf

    May 25, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    It’s getting harder and harder to believe they’re just ignorant/bigoted. More and more evidence of biased media peddling an agenda.

  3. Avatar

    eileen fleming

    May 25, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    In a 2003, BBC documentary investigative journalist, Peter Hounam stated “Vanunu told the world that Israel had developed between one hundred and two hundred atomic bombs [in 1986!] and had gone on to develop neutron bombs and thermonuclear weapons. Enough to destroy the entire Middle East and nobody has done anything about it since.”

    In 2005, Vanunu told me:

    “President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons. Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection.

    “When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them.

    “Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.”

    PLEASE listen to Vanunu in 2005, 2006 and 2008 video interviews and learn all about his FREEDOM OF SPEECH Trial @ http://www.wearewideawake.org/
    The Vanunu Saga: 2005-2010

  4. Avatar

    Middle Ground

    May 27, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    Salam

    When I lived in the UK, I’m sure this was ‘commonly’ known almost 20 years ago.

    • Avatar

      eileen fleming

      May 27, 2010 at 1:14 PM

      Shukran! EVERYWHERE except in the US this is probably common knowledge; and the same goes for the Palestinian narrative!

      Dr. Ilan Pappe illuminated me, that in Tel Aviv “on March 10, 1948, eleven men had a meeting in the Red House headed by Ben Gurion. The eleven decided to expel one million Palestinians from historical Palestine. No minutes were taken, but many memoirs were written about that fateful meeting. A systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine began and within seven months the Zionists managed to expel one half of all the Palestinian people from their villages and towns.

      “The Red House in Tel Aviv is gone now. It was a typical building in Tel Aviv that had all the characteristics of Mediterranean homes but with the local Palestinian architecture of the ’20’s. Today a USA Sheraton Hotel stands in its place. The Red House was the home of the Hagganah; a Jewish underground organization but before 1948 it was the home of a socialist movement, from which it received its name.

      “The New York Times followed Israeli troops and reported the truth of the expulsion and separation of men and women, and of the many massacres. The world was well informed in 1948, but a year later not a trace was reported in the USA press or books. It was as if nothing ever happened.

      “From March to October 1948 the USA State Department stated what was happening was a CRIME against humanity and ethnic cleansing. When ever one ethnic group expels another group they should be treated as War Criminals and the victims should be allowed to return. This is never mentioned in the USA about Palestine.

      “Israel is so successful in their ethnic cleansing because the world doesn’t care! The ethnic cleansing continues via the apartheid policies of the Israeli government and because of the denial of the truth by the USA media.

      “To claim Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East is bullshit! The Six Day War of 1967 escalated the ethnic cleansing and today in Jerusalem every Palestinian who fails to pay taxes, or has a minor infraction will loose their citizenship.

      “In 1948 the mechanism of denial and ethnic cleansing as an IDEOLOGY, not a policy but a formula began. When Zionism began in the 19th century it was meant to be a safe haven for Jews and to help redefine Judaism as a national movement, not just a religion. Nothing wrong with either of those goals!

      “But by the late 19th Century it was decided the only way these goals could be achieved was by ridding the indigenous population and it became an evil ideology.

      “Israeli Jewish life will never be simple, good, or worth living while this ideology of domination, exclusiveness and superiority is allowed to continue. The mind set today is that unless Israel is an exclusive Jewish State, Palestinians will continue to be obstacles. However, there has always been a small vocal minority challenging this.

      “The only thing that can save Palestinians is for the world to say “ENOUGH is ENOUGH!” The way to challenge and change the ethnic cleansing is to pursue true democracy and the use of sanctions and divestment, for money talks.”

      Doing all i can to try to WAKE U.S. UP to BDS and much more @ http://www.wearewideawake.org

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#Current Affairs

رد على الشيخ حبيب علي الجفري

 

بداية نود الاعتراف بوجوب احترام وتقديرهؤلاء الأفراد الذين كرسوا حياتهم لخدمة التمكين الديني والروحي للآخرين. فغالبًا ما تعمل قيادتهم العلمية والأخلاقية كمنارات للتوجيه ومصدر محاكاة للأمة. ومن المتوقع، لما لدورهم من أهمية بالغة، أن يتحدثوا ويتصرفوا وفقًا لأعلى مستويات الصدق والنزاهة الأخلاقية. لذلك فإن من المخيب للآمال، بشكل خاص، أن تصدر تعليقات خاطئة من عالم يجب أن يكون جزءًا من تراث الصرامة الفكرية العالية والسلوك الأخلاقي المتفوق. الأمر الأكثر إشكالية هو أن هذه التصريحات غير اللائقة تتعلق بمجموعة من إخوانهم المسلمين الذين يتعرضون لإكراه غير مسبوق للتخلي عن دينهم وهويتهم.     

في الصورة أعلاه ، خريطة تركستان الشرقية فيما يتعلق بباقي آسيا الوسطى. تركستان الشرقية هي بنفس حجم كاليفورنيا وأريزونا ونيو مكسيكو وكولورادو ويوتا ونيفادا مجتمعة

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ومن المؤسف أن الشيخ حبيب علي الجفري، وهو عالم مشهور في العالم العربي، أساء استخدام محاضرته الأخيرة بنشر معلومات غير صحيحة أو متحيزة سياسياً أو تضر بحياة أمة مسلمة بأكملها مستعمرة ومضطهدة من قبل الصين. وعلى الرغم من أنه يقر بأن الصين قد ارتكبت خطأً تجاه الأويغور وأنها ليست بريئة تمامًا، إلا أن الكثير من ادعاءاته لا تزال غير دقيقة وتحتاج إلى لفت انتباهه وانتباه تلاميذه. وتحاول هذه المقالة استعراض بعض هذه المغالطات وتصحيح هذه الادعاءات التي تنزع الشرعية عن الحقيقة البائسة للأويغور والشعب التركي الآخر في تركستان الشرقية (والتي أعيد تسميتها ويشار إليها باسم سينجيان)  .  

Ghulja

الاحتجاجات التي سبقت مذبحة الغولجة ۱۹۹۷                                                                                                    

وقد ظهر الحضور الصوفي الكبير في تركستان الشرقية من خلال مزاراتها الصوفية – التي تم التخلي عن معظمها بشكل منهجي أو تدميرها أو قطع أوصالها بأسلاك شائكة من قبل الحزب الشيوعي الصيني.                                                 

وتسلط المخطوطات القرآنية القديمة من المنطقة، وكذلك المخطوطات من القرنين التاسع عشر والعشرين، الضوء على الحفاظ على هذه التقاليد الإسلامية وأهميتها. وكثيراً من آلاف المساجد الجميلة المشيدة على الأرض، قام الحزب الشيوعي الصيني في الآونة الأخيرة بتدميرها. ونؤكد، لو أنها لم تكن أماكن زيارة وذات أهمية تاريخية، فلماذا قام الحزب الشيوعي الصيني بتجريفها؟ أصبحت كاشغر، عاصمة سلطنة الكراخانية و “جوهرة” طريق الحرير، مركزًا تعليميًا بارزًا للإسلام ومركزًا يعرض ماضي الأويغور الغني.                                                                                                            

ومن الواضح الآن أن الغالبية العظمى من الأويغور ليسوا مسلمين منذ القرن الحادي عشر فحسب ، بل أيضًا لا يمكن فصل تاريخ تركستان الشرقية عن تاريخ العالم الإسلامي. يتبع الأويغور بشكل موحد التيار السائد لأهل السنة حسب مدرسة الحنفية ، ولديهم حب كبير لأهل البيت النبيل (عائلة وأحفاد النبي ) – من الذي يدعي حبيب علي جفري أيضًا أصله – مثل جميع المسلمين الأتراك. وكان الأويغور قد أقاموا مقامًا لعالم من القرن الثامن وحفيد للنبي ، الإمام جعفر الصادق ، بالقرب من خوتان من تركستان الشرقية، والذي تم تدميره الآن من قبل نظام الحزب الشيوعي الصيني. 

إذا كانت شرائح من مجتمع الأويغور لا تمارس الاسلام اليوم ، فهذا يرجع في الغالب إلى القمع الايديولوجي الشيوعي منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية ، مثل سقوط محو الأمية الدينية والممارسات التي حدثت تحت الحكم السوفياتي في الجمهوريات التركية المجاورة. ومع ذلك ، فمن الجدير بالذكر أن نرى بعض جمهوريات آسيا الوسطى تشهد حاليًا إحياءً تدريجيًا للاحتفال الإسلامي بفضل زوال السياسات القمعية ، ملمحًا إلى الكيفية التي يمكن أن تزدهر بها الحياة الأويغورية الدينية عندما تتوقف السياسات القمعية بشأن تركستان الشرقية.

إن الأهمية التاريخية للأعمال التي أنتجها علماء الأويغور، والعديد من المدن القديمة الموجودة في جميع أنحاء تركستان الشرقية واضحة من العدوان الممنهج الذي سعت الحكومة الصينية للقضاء عليها. من حظر نشر النصوص باللغة الأويغورية ، وإغلاق جميع الأماكن الدينية ، وتحويل المواقع التاريخية إلى مراكز دعائية لنشر أويغورية علمانية مدعومة من الدولة ، دليل على أن الحزب الشيوعي الصيني ليس مهددًا فقط من قبل ثقافة الأويغور.

قبل وبعد ضريح الإمام الجعفري الصادق ايل آر ديسمبر١٠،٢٠١٣، ابريل ٢٠،٢٠١٩

رقم 2: يدعي أن مسألة القمع الأويغوري مسألة سياسية وليست دينية.

في حين أنه من الصحيح أن الاستعمار يُفهم في الغالب على أنه ظاهرة سياسية وليست دينية ، ولكن في هذه الحالة تم استخدام “الدين” كذريعة لتنفيذ عمليات الاعتقال والمراقبة الجماعية لشعب الأويغور.  وتدعي الصين أنها تقاتل ضد “التطرف الإسلامي” لحماية نفسها من ردة الفعل التي قد تواجهها نتيجة لوحشيتها في تركستان الشرقية. مثلها مثل الهند والعديد من الدول الغربية ، تستغل الصين تخوف العالم من “الإرهاب الإسلامي” لتبرير قمعها للمسلمين الأبرياء.

إن ممارسة الإسلام محظور بشكل قاطع في تركستان الشرقية ، على الرغم من الضمان الدستوري الصيني لحرية الدين. تحظر النصوص والأسماء الإسلامية ، ويُحظر ممارسة أركان الإسلام الخمسة ، وقد تم تدمير المؤسسات الإسلامية القديمة وتحويلها إلى مراكز دعائية شيوعية. اختفى علماء الدين ، أو حُكم عليهم بالسجن المؤبد أو قتلوا.

صورة الرئيس الصيني شي جين بينغ يصافح الأئمة الأويغور الموضوعة في مسجد عيد كاش التاريخي قاشغرفي تركستان الشرقية. علما أن الصورة في اتجاه صلاة المسلمين – القبلة

وبطبيعة الحال ، لن يكتمل التناغم في العرض بين الحزب الشيوعي الصيني دون الملايين من الصينيين الهان غير المسلمين الذين استقروا ، بمساعدة الحكومة ، داخل حدود تركستان الشرقية. في حين يتم نقل الأويغور بشكل منهجي خارج حدود وطنهم وداخل البر الرئيسي للصين للعمل كعمال قسريين أو للسجن و”إعادة التأهيل” ، فمن الصعب تجاهل الإزالة الديموغرافية للأويغور في تركستان الشرقية. ومع جلب المزيد والمزيد من الهان الصينيين إلى أراضي الأويغور ليحلوا محل السكان النازحين، دمر الحزب الشيوعي الصيني المساجد القديمة والمنازل والملاذات لإفساح المجال للمستوطنين الجدد. ويعتبر هؤلاء المستوطنون بمثابة تذكير مستمر لاختفاء الحكم الذاتي للأويغور وكذلك حراس على ما تبقى من سكان الأويغور على حد سواء. وهناك العديد من الروايات عن الصينيين الهان الذين يعيشون مع عائلات الأويغور في منازلهم على أنهم “أشقاء كبيرون” – يغذون الحكومة بالمعلومات عن كل خطوة تقوم بها العائلة ويساعدون في سجن الأويغور حتى في أدق المخالفات الدينية.

روى سجين سابق ، عادل عبد الغفور ، في مقابلة مع مؤلفنا المشارك السيدة أيدين ، كيف تم ضربه فاقداً للوعي من قبل سلطات السجن الصينية وأجبر على ارتداء كتلة من الأسمنت تزن 25 كجم لمدة شهر علقت بخيط رفيع حول عنقه لأنه قال ” بسم الله ” (بسم الله) في نومه. وقد تم اغتصاب عدد لا يحصى من النساء والرجال الأويغور ، الذين تم إرسالهم إلى المخيمات والسجون بسبب الممارسة الدينية ، وتعقيمهم قسراً ، وتخديرهم ، واستخدام أجسادهم لحصاد الأعضاء. ويعاقب الأويغور بالسجن لفترات طويلة. فقد حُكم على امرأة من الأويغور بالسجن 10 سنوات لترويجها ارتداء الحجاب ، وحُكم على رجل كازاخستاني بالسجن 16 سنة بعد أن وجدت السلطات الصينية تسجيلات صوتية للقرآن على جهاز الكمبيوتر الخاص به وقال العديد من اللاجئين الأويغور الذين قابلناهم أنه حتى التحيات الإسلامية – السلام عليكم – يمكن أن تسجنهم لمدة عشر سنوات.  

“مشهد منتشر في شوارع شينجيانغ # هذه الأيام. الرجال والنساء (بما في ذلك كبار السن) يتجولون بأندية ضخمة ، وهي جزء من “حرب الشعب” على الإرهاب

رقم 3:  يقول الشيخ إن السبب الذي يجعل الناس يكافحون من أجل تركستان الشرقية هو أنهم لا يريدون أن تبني الصين مبادرة حزام واحد بشارع واحد وتصبح أقوى بمرتين من أمريكا اقتصاديًا.  

يقلل هذا الادعاء من صراع تركستان الشرقية إلى ثنائي الصين مقابل أمريكا – وبالتالي يمحو العقود التي رزحتها تركستان الشرقية تحت الاحتلال الصيني. ففي عام 1759 ، غزت إمبراطورية مانشو تشينغ تركستان الشرقية وجعلتها مستعمرتها الجديدة .                                                                                                                            

وقد وقع أحدث احتلال في عام 1949 عندما وصل الحزب الشيوعي الصيني إلى السلطة ، ومنذ ذلك الحين، تعرض ملايين التركستانيين الشرقيين لأشكال مختلفة من الوحشية المنظمة والإبادة العرقية والثقافية الجماعية.

إنه لمن دواعي الأسف الشديد ليس فقط بنزع الشرعية عن جهود الشعب المسلم في الوقوف ضد مضطهديهم ، ولكن أيضًا باعتبارهم ليسوا سوى مجرد بيادق أمريكية. 

وبالتالي ، من السخف حقًا فهم قضية استعمار الأويغور من خلال عدسة السياسة الصينية الأمريكية. بدأ استعمار تركستان الشرقية قبل وقت طويل من أن تصبح الصين منافسًا حقيقيًا في سعيها للهيمنة الاقتصادية الدولية وستستمر لفترة طويلة بعد أن تغير الولايات المتحدة أو الصين سياستها الخارجية .

مشهد من جولة على “مركز التدريب المهني”. يعزف محتجزو الأويغور الموسيقى لإظهار “الانسجام” و “السعادة” داخل المخيمات. المصدر: بي بي سي

رقم 4:  يسأل كيف يمكن أن يكون فيروس كورونا عقابًا إلهيًا إذا بقيت سلطات الحزب الشيوعي نفسها دون أن يمسها الفيروس بسوء.

 بينما نتفق مع الشيخ على أننا لسنا في وضع يسمح لنا بالحكم على ما إذا كان أي حدث دنيوي هو فعل مباشر للعقاب الإلهي فإننا نتساءل عن بعض الآثار المترتبة المقدمة خلال محاضرته. فعلى سبيل المثال ، يسأل الشيخ كيف يمكن أن يكون كوفيد-19 عقابًا إلهيًا إذا ظل الأفراد الذين اتخذوا القرارات الحكومية المباشرة التي شكلت الجزء الأكبر من القمع ضد الأويغور أنفسهم سالمين من الفيروس. ونحن نجيب: كيف يمكن للفيروس الذي يضعف الاقتصاد والبنية الاجتماعية لبلد ترتكب حكومته الإبادة الجماعية ضد ملايين الشعوب المستعمرة ، ولكن يمكننا ببساطة أن نسأل كيف يعرف الشيخ أن أياً من هؤلاء الأفراد لم يصب بالمرض؟ بالإضافة إلى ذلك ، نتساءل لماذا لا يمكن للعقاب الإلهي أن يستهدف نظامًا فاسدًا بالكامل ، وليس مجرد بعض الأفراد الذين قد يعتبرهم لا يتطلب الأمر فعلًا من العقاب الإلهي حتى ندرك عدم أخلاقية فعل أو حدث. نحن لا ننتظر أن تصيبنا صاعقة قبل أن ندرك أننا ربما ارتكبنا إثماً. وبنفس الطريقة ، لا نعرف ما إذا كان كوفيد-19هو عقاب إلهي ، لكننا نعرف أن اضطهاد الأويغور مدمر، وأن حجته ضد هذا ليست مقنعة.

محمد صالح حاج (٨٢) ، المعروف على نطاق واسع كأول باحث لقد ترجم القرآن الكريم إلى الأويغور الحديث ، هو من بين أحد الشهداء وقتل في الاحتجاز في يناير٢٠١٨

ملاحظات ختاميـة

نحن لا نسعى لمعرفة السبب وراء خطب الشيخ حول وضع إخواننا وأخواتنا الأويغور بشكل كبير على قضيتهم – ولا يمكننا معرفة السبب بالتأكيد. لكن ما يمكننا فعله هو التساؤل عن مصادر معلوماته وإبراز خطورة أفعاله وكلماته. فالملايين من المسلمين في الصين قمعوا لمجرد ارتكابهم أفعالاً إيمانية بسيطة يسعد الناس في أماكن أخرى القيام بها كل يوم – بما في ذلك قول “بسم الله” قبل أن يأخذوا لقمة من الطعام. ومع مرور رمضان بسرعة ، من المحزن التفكير في الأويغور الذين يجبرون على تناول الطعام والشراب ، ناهيك عن شرب الكحول وتناول لحم الخنزير ، خلال الشهر الكريم لإثبات بعدهم عن الإسلام وقربهم من الحكومة الصينية. وبينما نجلس نحن مع عائلاتنا للإفطار ، يعاني الأويغور وغيرهم من الأتراك بصمت في آلاف السجون ومعسكرات العمل البعيدة عن أسرهم.

هذا الباحث ، أو أولئك الذين أضلوه ، لم يتجاهلوا انتهاكات الحزب الشيوعي الصيني ضد ديننا والأمة عمومًا فحسب ، بل حاولوا أيضًا تثبيط مئات الآلاف من المسلمين الأحرار من مساعدة الأويغور في محنتهم ضد الحزب الشيوعي الصيني. وكما ذكرنا سابقًا ، نحن لا نسعى للعمل كمترجمين لمشيئة الله. بل على العكس ، نحن نسعى فقط للعمل وفق تقاليد إسلامية راسخة في أخذ عبرة ، ودرس مستمد من تجربة أخلاقية مما نلاحظه في العالم. وحتى أثناء إجراء هذه الملاحظة بعناية، فإننا نعترف بأن مصادرنا هي ظنية ، أو من عدم اليقين. ومع ذلك ، نعتقد أن تاريخنا وإيماننا قد دعوا بوضوح إلى العدالة والحرية الدينية بحيث تجاهل القمع المباشر للإسلام أو المسلمين ، خاصة من خلال وسائل عنيفة وقاسية مثل تلك التي يمارسها الحزب الشيوعي الصيني ، هو ارتكاب خطأ أخلاقي أكيد .       

إعلان استقلال جمهورية تركستان الشرقية الإسلامية، نوفمبر ١٩٣٣،١٢
ملاحظة: كما هو واضح، قاد العلماء / العلماء المحليون جهود الاستقلال

                                                                                                

في الختام ، نطلب بتواضع من العالم الشيخ جفري التمسك بالتعاليم الأبدية للإسلام قبل الإدلاء بمثل هذه التعليقات العمياء التي تضر بشكل صارخ بصورة الملايين من الإخوة والأخوات المسلمين المضطهدين.  والقرآن ينصح بكل وضوح بعدم الوقوف مع الظالمين ضد إخوانكم المسلمين ، “ولا تركنوا إلى الذين ظلموا فتمسكم النار”. سوره هود:١١٤               

وقد أكد زعيمنا بلا منازع ، النبي محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم ، أنه إذا أردت أن تقول شيئًا ، فقل شيئًا جيدًا ، وإلا فالتزم الصمت  “من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر فليقل خيراً أو ليصمت” متفق عليه.

 

١ .الاستمرار في الدعاء للمضطهدين من تركستان الشرقية والعالم.

مقاطعة المنتجات الصينية – لا ترضى بعمالة السخرة

٢. رفع الوعي حول محنة الأويغور وقضية تركستان الشرقية ، تعرّف على المزيد من موقع:  

                                                              SaveUighur.org

٣. العمل على تقليل الاعتماد الاقتصادي لبلدك على الصين.

٤. بناء تحالفات مع جميع أصحاب الضمير للمطالبة بوقف قمع الصين لجميع الجماعات الدينية ، سواء كانت الأويغور المسلمون أو الهوي أو المسيحيون أو البوذيون التبتيون.

٥. تشجيع وتعزيز التجارة العادلة مع المسلمين وغيرهم بدلاً من الصين.

٦. الاستفسار عن أعضاء الشتات الأويغور في منطقتك.  تنظيم مساعدة للأيتام والأرامل والطلاب.   

 ٧. الضغط على الحكومات لتوفير الحماية القانونية للاجئين الأويغور المنفيين إما عن طريق الجنسية أو اللجوء.  أوقفوا “تسليم – ترحيل”  الأويغور إلى الصين!

٨. احصل على أوقاف جامعاتك للتخلص من الصين. رفع الوعي بالتجسس الصيني والبنادق المستأجرة في الأوساط الأكاديمية.  طلب الدعم الأكاديمي والمالي للعلماء والطلاب الأويغور.

  1. طلب المزيد من الاهتمام الأكاديمي والتمويل للدراسات المتعلقة بآسيا الوسطى والأويغور والتركستانية.

رد على الشيخ حبيب علي الجف __ – PDFArabic Habib Ali

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Doors Of Mercy Are Open | Worship In The Days of Closed Masajid

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closed masjid

By Lisha Azad

WHATSAPP NEWSFLASH: Mosques to be indefinitely closed across the country for all prayers! 

As I crept out of bed, I could hear the imam at my neighbourhood masjid recite the Qur’an melodiously in prayer. And then a sad thought engulfed me – this would be the last Fajr Jama’ah (congregational) prayer for days to come.

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And no more Jumu’ah! 

This shocking WhatsApp message was followed by videos, audios, and writeups from imams across the globe who admitted that they broke down in tears at this news of mosque closures in their country, fearing that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)’s displeasure on humanity could perhaps be the reason that was leading to this pandemic and now this worldwide shutdown. These fears were also echoed in our young imam’s words when he described this closure as the saddest day of his life. 

I am not a 5 times-a-day masjid-goer. As a woman, it is not fardh on me to attend prayers at a masjid. However, living in a Muslim-majority country close to a masjid means being able to listen to the Adhan and the Iqamah, LIVE, five times a day. From the comfort of my home. It’s a blessing being able to respond to these calls of prayer and thereby getting blessings and rewards for it. These calls to prayer remind the men in my family to rush to attend congregational prayers and reap its massive rewards.  

Having lived the most part of my life in a Muslim-majority in the Gulf, the Adhan and Iqamah are also the most natural sounds of my daily life. Therefore, having to listen to a shortened Adhan commanding the believers to pray in our homes that day, Dhuhr onwards and thereafter no Iqamah feels surreal, to say the least. 

While the Shahadah is reiterated even in the shortened Adhan, what I miss the most are the words, “Hayya ‘Ala As-Salah, Hayya ‘Ala Al-Falah (Come to Salah, Come to Success)”.

Five times a day, I was so used to hearing these words urging the believers to hasten to prayer that would bring perpetual prosperity. From Tuesday onwards, I began to actually question myself as to how much I truly equated success with Salah. I also miss responding to those words of the Adhan with the words “La Hawla Wa La Quwatta Illa Billah (There is no might or power but with Allah)”. In hindsight, I have to admit that like many of my Muslim brothers and sisters, especially those living in Muslim countries, I too had taken the Adhan and the Iqamah for granted. 

As one of the world’s continuously resounding sounds, these calls to prayer are the most distinctive feature and clearly experienced symbol of Islam for more than 1000 years. Starting with the testimony of the Shahadah, the Adhan and thereafter the Iqamah helps both Muslims and non-Muslims bring to mind the very essence of Islamic beliefs and the importance of living our lives dedicated to the remembrance of the Almighty. 

My husband tells me of a colleague, Mr. Lee, who was visiting a Muslim country for the first time. He recalled how captivated Mr. Lee had been by the tuneful Adhan when he first heard it and how he wanted to know what it was all about. Those melodious words eventually led him to enquire and learn more about Islam. 

Although alarm clocks and mobile phones are sufficient to remind us to pray these days, both the Adhan and the Iqamah are proclamations of the greatness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), of how we need to hasten to make Salah and how through Salah, we can attain success. Brothers and sisters, think about it!

If we are able to hear the Adhan and then the Iqamah being pronounced 5 times a day, it is as if we are announcing to the world that ours is a Muslim country or at least a country where Muslims are free to practice the Sunnah of the beloved Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and live their lives freely according to the dictates of Islam.  

While the reasons for the shortened Adhan, no Iqamah and cancellation of the daily/weekly community prayers that are being enforced today worldwide are completely legitimate, it’s the actual and indefinite closure of the mosques worldwide that’s disturbing.

In effect, here’s what we would be actually missing in the coming days (Hadith references at the end of the article):  

* The chance to erase our sins by walking to the mosque in a state of wudu

* The reward of walking to the mosque in a state of ablution (wudu) and gaining a’jr for every step we take

* The opportunity to make dua’ to bring light upon ourselves, to have the doors of His mercy opened to us and to ask for His abundant blessings upon us while walking to and entering/exiting His house

* The chance to make accepted dua’s between the Athan and the Iqamah

* The chance to pray Nafl prayers in the masjid after the Athan and before the Iqamah

* The rewards of the Jam’aah prayers – 25 to 27 times more reward than individual prayers prayed at home or in the marketplace! 

* The 5-a day chance and reward to personally exchange face-to-face salams with our neighbours 

* The weekly opportunity to meet our brothers and sisters from the Ummah at large

* The chance to engage in congregational dua’a and istighfar 

* The chance to be in the blessed company of angels while gaining knowledge 

* The chance to have the angels pray for us as we wait in the mosque 

As it is rightly said, “We only realize the value of a thing when it is lost.” So how could we bring back the value and reward of attending jama’ah prayers? I was deep in thought when I came across this Hadith,

Worship in a time of turmoil is as if he had emigrated to me.” (Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2948). What a fantastic thought to keep being motivated to perform acts of worship during difficult days! 

Therefore, here’s what I researched and came up with to avoid missing out on the above rewards (wherever possible, detailed references have been included at the end of the write-up):

  • Institute congregational prayers on time with our families – Praying on time is one of the best deeds that we can do. Scholars maintain that the smallest number that counts for prayer in congregation, apart from Jumu’ah prayer, is two: the imam and the person who is praying behind him, who should stand to his right. Even the Jumu’ah is valid if there are 3 or more people praying in congregation. (Source: Islamqa.info)
  • Start a family halaqah – Family halaqahs are a great way to involve all ages including the elderly and the very young in a circle of learning. And how much there is to learn and benefit from – dhikr, dua’a, knowledge of the Prophets and Sahabas, fiqh, Islamic history…what better way to have the angels lower their wings upon us as seekers of knowledge and pray for us! 
  • Make dua’a together as a family – This is another great way to have the angels make dua’ for us to be blessed with the same things that we make dua’ for, for the entire Ummah. Remember to use the most powerful dua’as and dhikr for maximum reward and effect. 
  • Use Quarantine is actually Qur’an-Time – Just as this phrase is trending these days, let us turn to reading/memorizing/perfecting the recitation our Noble Book. Let us actively seek to apply its timeless wisdom and teachings to correct and improve our lives whilst getting rewarded 10 times over for every letter recited. 
  • Increase the sending of Salawat on Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) – One salat on the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is 10 blessings upon ourselves and through this simple act, we can also expect an increase of reward and erasure of sins as mentioned in the Hadith. Also, our salam reaches him wherever we may send it from and we will be rewarded for it always. What a great way to gain ajr! 
  • Connect creatively – The coronavirus pandemic has socially and severely distanced us. However, the Internet is now perhaps the best thing that ever happened in human history. What better time than to refresh those virtual friendships/relationships and drop a line to ask after others. We could also use other non-contact ways to connect with neighbours and friends by phoning/chatting with them on social media and once in a while, surprising them with a delicious dish on their doorstep! 

Finally, it pays to remember the Sahih hadith that states that acts of worship during times of difficulty/illness/travels are rewarded similarly as when done at home in times of good health and ease. Therefore let us set good intentions and act upon them by doing good deeds as much and whenever we can in our good times, so as to continue reaping the rewards during our difficult days. 

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) guide us, forgive us and keep us all steadfast on His Deen, Aameen! 

Hadith References

  • The Prophet said: Supplications (dua’s) offered in between the (two) calls for prayer (i.e. Adhan and Iqamah) will never be rejected.” – Abu Dawud 
  • Allah’s Apostle ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is twenty-five times greater than that of the prayer offered in one’s house or in the market (alone). And this is because if he performs ablution and does it perfectly and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for every step he takes towards the mosque, he is upgraded one degree in reward and his one sin is taken off (crossed out) from his accounts (of deeds). When he offers his prayer, the angels keep on asking Allah’s Blessings and Allah’s forgiveness for him as long as he is (staying) at his Musalla. They say, ‘O Allah! Bestow Your blessings upon him, be Merciful and kind to him.’ And one is regarded in prayer as long as one is waiting for the prayer.” – Narrated by Abu Huraira (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 620)
  • Allah’s Apostle said, “The angels keep on asking for Allah’s Blessing and Forgiveness for anyone of you as long as he is at his Musalla (praying place) and does not do Hadath (passes wind). The angels say, ‘O Allah! Forgive him and be Merciful to him.’ Each one of you is in the prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer and nothing but the prayer detains him from going to his family.” – Narrated by Abu Huraira (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 628) 
  • He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy for him, and indeed, the angels lower their wings for the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does…” – As narrated by Abud-Darda (RA) and quoted in Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidhi
  • Whoever supplicates Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to exalt my mention (i.e., send salah) Allah will exalt his mention (i.e., send salah) 10 times and remove from him 10 sins and raise him 10 degrees.” – As quoted in Sahih Muslim 

Lisha Azad is a children’s author with four published books, a freelance writer with hundreds of articles, features, opinion pieces and interviews published in the past 20-plus years in the Middle East. 

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#Current Affairs

When Racism Goes Viral: The Coronavirus And Modern Muslim Orientalism

Zeba Khan

Published

Lumping an entire people together for collective punishment, reveling in their suffering, and sniggering at their food choices isn’t an exercise in science, Sunnah, or compassion. It’s good, old-fashioned orientalism.

In the eight weeks since it was identified, the 2019 novel coronavirus has infected nearly 12,000 people in China alone, 200 of whom did not survive. Symptoms are flu-like in nature, and global side effects include acute, apparently contagious… racism.

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Online, in Muslim as well as non-Muslim spaces, social media feeds are sniggering “Eww, you eat gross things! Of course you’ll get gross diseases!” In the midst of this human tragedy, orientalist tropes about the Chinese are being sloppily repackaged as health concerns over the coronavirus, and served with a side of bat soup.

Yes, bat soup.

The coronavirus in question is found in bats, and thanks to the scientific expertise of social media, videos of Chinese people consuming anything from bat soup to baby mice and rats are popping up as “proof” of the disease’s cause.

However the coronavirus made the jump from bats to humans, the initial source of the outbreak seems to have originated from the Wuhan Seafood market, where a number of employees and a few shoppers were the first casualties to the infection. The 2019-nCoV is moving from person to person the same way the flu does, and what a person eats – or doesn’t eat – has no bearing on whether they contract the virus or not.

In an article titled, No, Coronavirus Was Not Caused by ‘Bat Soup’–But Here’s What Researchers Think May Be to Blame, Health.com writes:

“Coronaviruses in general are large family of viruses that can affect many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In rare cases, those viruses are also zoonotic, which means they can pass between humans and animals—as was the case with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory system (SARS), two severe coronaviruses in people.

Initially, this novel coronavirus was believed to have started in a large seafood or wet market, suggesting animal-to-person spread, according to the CDC. But a large number of people diagnosed with the virus reportedly didn’t have exposure to the wet markets, indicating that person-to-person spread of the virus is also occurring. However, it’s still possible that the novel coronavirus began with an infected animal at the market—and then went on to person-to-person transmission once people were infected.”

Being uncomfortable with things you’ve never considered edible before isn’t necessarily a racist reaction. When my husband told me he ate a chocolate-covered cricket once, I hid my toothbrush for a week, but that’s not what’s happening right now. There is a deadly virus threatening a group of people, and the internet sees fit to make fun of them. Why? Because orientalism.

Orientalism is the “intellectual” framework through which Western societies create a clear and permanent line between Western superiority and “Oriental” inferiority. If orientalism were an Instagram filter, it would take any picture of any person, event, or thing, and distort its appearance to be “other,” and in some way inferior.

Orientalism is the “intellectual” framework through which Western societies create a clear and permanent line between Western superiority and “Oriental” inferiority. If orientalism were an Instagram filter, it would take any picture of any person, event, or thing, and distort its appearance to be “other,” and in some way inferior.Click To Tweet

The inferiorizing feature is step one, because in order to position yourself as a winner, the other guy has to be a loser in some way.

The otherizing is the step 2, and both steps are important because if you say that your little brother is a loser, in the end you’re still family and you’ve got his back. This would be inferiorizing, but not otherizing.

But if you say that other kind of guy is a loser, then you have no common ground. And when the other kind of guy is in trouble, you need only gloat and make nasty comments on Twitter. That’s inferiorizing with otherizing. Orientalism can be loosely translated as US vs THEM, normal versus weird, and local versus invasive foreign, or exotic.

The otherizing of orientalism is so subconsciously embedded in people that it even creates auditory illusions to maintain the “otherization” of the subject being viewed. As crazy as that sounds, everyone has their own experience. Mine for just last month played out as follows. A homeless man approached my window and said “Ma’am, do you have two dollars?”

I smiled and responded to him, “I have exactly two dollars!”

As I dug around for my wallet, he cocked his head and said, “Your accent. There’s something different about it. Something… foreign, exotic?”

“It’s Chicago,” I said, handing him two dollars.

He blinked a few times. “What’s Chicago?”

“My accent. It’s Chicagoan. English is my first language. My accent is from Chicago.”

He narrowed his eyes at me suspiciously, this gatekeeper of Chicagoness. “What part of Chicago?”

“North side, Lincolnwood area,” I said. “I grew up on Devon Ave.”

“Pulaski Park!” he beamed, pointing to himself. “I’m from Chicago too!”

We smiled at each other, basking for a moment in our mutual Chicagoness. Then I waved and drove away, adding his insistence of my  exotic“otherness” to the dozens of other peoples’ who have heard my perfectly flat, perfectly blandly midwestern accent and perceived something foreign. I call that one “hearing with your eyes.”

I have lost track of people who have tried to insist that I have an accent. One woman even went so far as to imply that I was lying about being a native English speaker, that I must have some other first language, because there’s “Something else in there, I can hear something foreign! But you’re very articulate though.”

(To form your own opinion on my exotic accent or the lack thereof, visit the MuslimMatters podcast here!)

Compliments like “You’re so articulate!” or “You’re so different!” give you partial credit for your exceptionality, while still discrediting every other member of your general race, religion, region, or hemisphere. The left-handed compliment has a long history, and follows a predictable pattern. Take, for example, this excerpt from The Talisman, a crusade-genre fiction published in 1825.

In this scene, our gallant, invading knight finds himself unable to defeat the enemy “Saracen,” aka – Muslim defender of the Holy Land. In grudging admiration, the knight concedes:

“I well thought…that your blinded race had their descent from the foul fiend, without whose aid you would never have been able to maintain this blessed land of Palestine against so many valiant soldiers of God. I speak not thus of thee in particular, Saracen, but generally of thy people and religion. Strange it is to me, however, not that you should have the descent from the Evil One, but that you should boast of it.”

Translation: “Your people and your religion are the spawn of satan, but not you. I speak not thus of thee in particular. You’re so cool for Muslim!” Spoiler alert: turns out it’s Salahuddin.

From the crusades to colonialism to America’s chronic invasion of Muslim lands, the misrepresentation of people from Over There is both a cause and effect of policy decisions. Orientalism creates the “bad guys” necessary to justify the “good guy” response by “proving” the bad guys to be so weird, inferior, and intrinsically bad that it becomes necessary to call for the good guy cavalry. That gives the good guys permission to take over the resources that the bad guys are too incompetent to manage anyway, and overthrow the governments they’re too stupid to run, and free the women that they’re too barbaric to appreciate.

One excellent reference on this is Dr. Jack Shaheen’s brilliant documentary Reel Bad Arabs, which summarizes a hundred years of Hollywood’s orientalist portrayal of “Arab Land,” a mythical, exotic, treacherous, incompetent, and seductive place, whose capital city is apparently Agrabah which, in 2015, a public policy poll found that 30% of GOP voters were in favor of bombing.

Another side effect of orientalism is the refusal to allow for individual accountability and the insistence on collective blame. “Western” men who harm and oppress women are rightly labeled as jerks and abusers who don’t represent Western morals, ethics, or ideals through their individual actions. Same for white racists, extremists, and criminals in general.

However, Muslims jerks who do the same are awarded representative status of the entire Muslim population (1.9 billion) and Islamic tradition (1441 years). The perception as all Muslim men based on only the worst of them seems ludicrous on paper, and such generalizations are no longer acceptable to make about race, but are still perfectly popular to make about minority religious groups.

Orientalism enables the belief that Muslims are terrible terrorists who are terrible to their women. If they say otherwise, it’s because their religion is terrible and lying about it is part of the religion too. They don’t deserve their own lands or resources, they’ll just use them for more terribleness. We should go in there and save them from themselves! And also, make lots of predictable, idiotic romance novels and movies in which a poor, beautiful Oriental Female is rescued through the power of Love and Freedom. Because just as violence is the natural state of the Muslim man, oppression is the natural state of the Muslim woman. Miskeena. Habibti.

Human beings can be horrible to each other. No ethnic, religious, or racial group is any exception. The problem arises when individual horribleness is elevated to collective attribution, and that collective attribution is used to justify collective punishment, as well as collective suffering.

When millions of Americans get sick from the flu, and tens of thousands die every year, why aren’t we making fun of the weird things that white people eat? Like Rocky Mountain Oysters (which are bull testicles) and sweetbreads (which are bits of an animal’s pancreas and thymus glands)?Click To Tweet

When millions of Americans get sick from the flu, and tens of thousands die every year, why aren’t we making fun of the weird things that white people eat? Like Rocky Mountain Oysters (which are bull testicles) and sweetbreads (which are bits of an animal’s pancreas and thymus glands)? What about snails, frog legs, crawfish, chocolate covered ants, and those tequila-inspired lollipops with an actual worm candied in the center?

The filtering effect of orientalism means that our weird foods – be it maghz masala and katakat– are quirky and fun, but their weird foods are disgusting and totally cause to celebrate infectious disease.

If the tables were turned and a deadly coronavirus originated from say, Saudi Arabia, would it be alright to ridicule Muslims for what they ate, or how they lived? What if that specific coronavirus actually originated in camels.

Yes, camels. The Islamophobic internet would have a field day with that one. Yes, we ride camels and prize camels and even eat camels – and they’re delicious I might add – but if a deadly virus originated from camels, found its way into humans in the Middle East, and from there caused death and destruction in other countries- would it be our fault? Would we deserve scorn? Would the suffering and death of our people be justified by how “gross” it is that we eat camels, even if only a few us actually do, and the rest of us prefer shawarma?

Pause for dramatic emphasis. Open the Lancet. Read.

“Human coronavirus is one of the main pathogens of respiratory infection. The two highly pathogenic viruses, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, cause severe respiratory syndrome in humans and four other human coronaviruses induce mild upper respiratory disease. The major SARS-CoV outbreak involving 8422 patients occurred during 2002–03 and spread to 29 countries globally.

MERS-CoV emerged in Middle Eastern countries in 2012 but was imported into China.

The sequence of 2019-nCoV is relatively different from the six other coronavirus subtypes but can be classified as betacoronavirus. SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV can be transmitted directly to humans from civets and dromedary camels, respectively, and both viruses originate in bats, but the origin of 2019-nCoV needs further investigation.

The mortality of SARS-CoV has been reported as more than 10% and MERS-CoV at more than 35%.”

MERS-CoV, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome –Coronavirus emerged in 2012, traveling from bats to camels to humans, killing 35% of the people who contracted it. It originated in Saudi Arabia and found its way across the continent all the way to China. So could the Chinese internet have been justified in ridiculing our deaths because we ate camels?

Could they legitimize posting “gross” videos of whole, pit-roasted camels? Could they say it was science, not racism, as they moved on to our other “gross” foods, like locusts and the dhab lizard?

Read more about the Sunnah of the Dhab Lizard.

Locusts and lizards have as much to do with MERS-CoV as mice and rats have to do with 2019 novel coronavirus, but doesn’t our grossness in general mean we deserve our fate?

No, it doesn’t. Making fun of what people eat isn’t science, epidemiology, or the sunnah. It’s racism, and it is hugely disappointing to see Muslims hurt others with to the same tropes that are used to hurt us.

No, it doesn’t. Making fun of what people eat isn’t science, epidemiology, or the sunnah. It’s racism, and it is hugely disappointing to see Muslims hurt others with to the same tropes that are used to hurt us.Click To Tweet

Orientalism is alive and kicking both of our communities in the teeth — Chinese and Muslim – but to further complicate the matter, there’s the ongoing genocide of the Uighur Muslims in China, and that’s rooted in orientalism too.

The Chinese government has imprisoned 3 million Muslims in concentration camps, a number equal to the entire Muslim population in America. It is not unexpected that some people wishfully assume the 2019 novel coronavirus epidemic to be the comeuppance that the Chinese government deserves for its cruelty, but that’s sad and wrong on many, many levels.

People cheering the coronavirus on fail to understand a few very big, very important things about the situation. I will list them, because the internet is no place for subtlety and these points have to stand out for those who would sail over the entire article so they can trash it in the comments. They are as follows:


  1. The entire population of China is no more responsible for the actions of its government than you are for yours. If you hate Donald Trump, his border wall, the separation of families, the Muslim Ban, cuts to medical benefits, and corruption in general but STILL live in America, then you understand that a great, frustrated, and powerless mass of citizens can have little to no effect on its government’s choices. Such is politics. Such is life. Such is China too.

    This guy is all our fault specifically. So I hope we all die of the flu.

  2. The coronavirus’s lethality is exponentially higher in people with poor health and weak immune systems. Like the flu, the coronavirus is overwhelmingly most lethal to children and elderly. The coronavirus is not targeted at, nor limited to the Chinese leadership for its crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, that is not how epidemics work.
  3.  The spread of Coronavirus – like all respiratory infections – is greatly accelerated through close living quarters as well as poor sanitation and hygiene. The 3 million Uighur Muslims interred by the Chinese government are imprisoned in distressingly cruel, cramped, and unhygienic conditions. Their close proximity as well as population density mean that if the virus makes it into the captive population, hundreds of thousands – if not millions of Muslims – would die. Don’t root for the coronavirus. It does not discriminate based on religion or race, even if you do.

And now we come full circle. When Muslims ridicule the Chinese for “being gross,” they are simply echoing the same racist, Orientalist talking points that labeled the Chinese – and later the Japanese – as the “Yellow Peril,” a filthy, faceless, monolithic mass deserving all of our scorn and none of the individual considerations that we insist on for ourselves.

Given the abuse that Muslims have been subject to by orientalist tropes, it should make us all the more aware of its dangerous cultural impact. We know what it’s like to be looked down on, laughed at, and blamed for our own suffering. We know what it feels like to have our foods gagged at, our accents mocked, and our cultural clothing turned into Halloween costumes.

Worse still, we know, very painfully and very currently, what it looks like for an entire people to be treated as a disease in and of themselves. China has declared Islam to be a contagious disease, an “ideological illness,” and on this very basis is it holding 3 million Muslims hostage. In an official statement loaded with situational irony, the Chinese Community Party officially stated,

“Members of the public who have been chosen for reeducation have been infected by an ideological illness. They have been infected with religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology, and therefore they must seek treatment from a hospital as an inpatient.

… There is always a risk that the illness will manifest itself at any moment, which would cause serious harm to the public. That is why they must be admitted to a reeducation hospital in time to treat and cleanse the virus from their brain and restore their normal mind … Being infected by religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology and not seeking treatment is like being infected by a disease that has not been treated in time, or like taking toxic drugs … There is no guarantee that it will not trigger and affect you in the future.” – source

The dangers of racism and orientalism are real, and the victims number the millions. Knowing how much damage orientalism causes in our community, we must commit to never, ever stooping to the same ideologies that are used to justify our own oppression. No matter how many bats people eat, or how evil their government can be, people are individual people. We stand on equal footing, equally deserving of respect, compassion, and acknowledgement of our humanity.



The Orientalist mindset that diminishes and distances us from each other strips us of our dignity, whether we are its victim, or its the perpetrator. Such racism is antithetical to the Prophetic compassion and mercy that Islam demands from us as Muslims. When Muslims celebrate the suffering of innocent people as some sort of epidemiological revenge for the suffering of innocent people, that’s not Islam.

That’s prejudice.

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