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Pakistan Navy base in Karachi attacked by terrorists

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Around 10.30 pm on Sunday, May 22, 2011, 04 explosions rocked PNS Mehran, a Pakistan Navy airbase (located just a 03 minute drive from my house). I was sitting with my family in the living room and due to the way my house is built none of us heard the explosions. Thus, we were oblivious to the message of concerns that were coming on my cell phone, charging in the other room, from family members and my parents who are on vacation abroad. It was a phone call around 11:00 pm from my uncle asking me where I was and informing me of the concern of my parents that alerted me to the attack. I quickly called my parents to reassure them that I and my family were safe at home while switching on the television set to catch news updates on the explosions.

Coverage around 11 pm on Express 24/7

 

At 10:00 am the number of explosions had increased to 13 and the terrorists were still present on the base. As people headed to work, Sami Shah (@samishah) a stand-up comedian, tweeted something serious and thought provoking:

Went to sleep to my city under siege. Woke up to it under siege. Weirdest part is the rest of us just go to office and keep working.

Indeed, what was the biggest ever attack on a military installation during the War on Terror, did not stop the city from its functioning. As Khaver Siddiqi (@thekarachikid) tweeted very aptly:

There’s a 9/11, 26/11 and 7/7. Then there’s everyday in Pakistan. #prayforpakistan

Indeed, we as citizens of the country that is really fighting the Global War on Terror, have become so desensitized to violence, mayhem, and carnage that not only did we sleep soundly last night, we got up and went about our business.

Copyright: AFP

The gun battle lasted nearly 17 hours and around 4:30 pm we got an update from the Interior Minister Rehman Malik (equivalent of the National Security Adviser) that the battle was over and all terrorists (whom the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed as their members) had been killed.

He (Rehman Malik – the Interior Minister) said that among the six terrorists present at the site, one suicide bomber’s head had been recovered, while four bodies were also found. He added, however, that two individuals were seen running off the base.

Malik said the terrorists were wearing “western clothes, had small beards and three of them had sharp features”.

He said two of the attackers look to be around 22 years of age and one of the suicide bombers was around 25 years of age. He said they were dressed in black clothes “like they do in movies”.

“They were dressed like Star Wars characters,” said Malik. (Express Tribune)

OK that last statement didn’t really make sense. However, neither did the fact that four or six 20 somethings managed to invade a highly secure Navy facility, blow up 3 aircraft (including 2 P-3C Orion planes costing around USD 36 million each), and martyr 10 people. Too many things don’t add up and I am afraid we just might have to wait for another batch of Wikileaks cables to get the real story. In the meantime an inquiry commission has been constituted to determine how the terrorists managed to enter the base and cause so much damage. 20 explosions, regular gunfire throughout the night and day, and 10 returning to their Lord after laying down their lives for their country, it certainly demands an inquiry. However, the sentiments of many are echoed in the following tweet by Kashif Aziz (@kashaziz);

So 6 terrorists kept 1500+ security men engaged for 11 hours, and 2 were able to escape alive. Pak Fauj ko Salam! (Salute to the Pakistan Armed Forces)

Some More Reading

Time: Pakistan Extremists Embarrass Military by Invading a Navy Base

DAWN: Timeline of recent attacks targeting Pakistan Navy

Express Tribune: Timeline: Major attacks on the armed forces in Pakistan

Wired: “Star Wars” Terrorists Storm Pakistani Naval Base

The Lede: Before Attack, Pakistan’s Navy Boasted of Role in Fight Against Taliban

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Aly is an entrepreneur who was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan where he currently resides. He has been associated with many diverse fields such as Textiles, Minerals & Ores, Feeds and Agri-Commodities. Known on Social Media as DiscoMaulvi, he serves in operational and advisory roles for several Islamic organizations such as LiveDeen, AlKauthar Karachi, Mercy Mission Pakistan, and Azãn. He is also a co-founder and trustee of Ihsaas Trust, a shariah-compliant finance provider for micro-entrepreneurs.Aly joined the team of MM in 2011 as a blogger/writer and is currently the Team Lead for the Comments Team and a former member of the Executive Shurah.He is easily accessible via Twitter or through his Public Page on Facebook where you can learn more about him. You can also visit his (mostly defunct) personal blog From The Pulpit ... Sermons of DiscoMaulvi and comment so he still feels like a Blogger. :)

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Cartoon M

    May 23, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    wow, that’s just sad. May Allah protect Pakistan.

  2. Avatar

    M Ali

    May 23, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    I am confused, I thought terrorists are those who attack innocent civilians. It’s only semantics that I am pointing out to but militants/insurgents would be the right word.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      May 24, 2011 at 4:56 AM

      M Ali

      Point to be noted. Militants would be more appropriate.

      -Aly

  3. Avatar

    ZAI

    May 24, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    You reap what you sow and what goes around comes around.

    Pakistan has for decades taken the lid off these freaks and supported, armed and used them to forment terrorism and sabotage in Afghanistan and India. Scores of Indian and Afghan civilians have died in these barbaric attacks…let alone military soldiers as is the case here.

    Well, now these ghouls are outta the box and now biting the hand that fed them. These types can NEVER be controlled and Pakistan is now learning that lesson to it’s detriment.

    If Pakistan wants to save itself, then time for the Pakistani goverment and especially the defacto independant military and ISI to cut the cord and reign in these freaks. Time to realize these types cannot be controlled and used as strategic assets only against the neighboring countries, but will inevitably burn down the house that is Pakistan itself.

    My heart goes out to the Pakistani civilians who suffer, like civilians anywhere who suffer…unfortunately for them the blame for it all lies with their own government and military.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      May 24, 2011 at 5:04 AM

      Dear ZAI

      Indeed you are right that part of the problem for Pakistan is that the chickens have come home to roost. However, there are plenty of other factors that have led us here and some of them were not of Pakistan’s choosing.

      At the end of it you are correct that the civilians end up paying a heavy price for the government and military’s actions (although here the target was military).

      -Aly

      • Avatar

        ZAI

        May 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM

        Dear Aly,

        You’re right that Pakistan alone is not at fault if you’re speaking historically.
        However, Pakistans military and ISI ARE fully responsible in that they alone insist on maintaining and supporting these extremists as a strategic/military asset. No one else is doing so currently.

        Plenty of actors involved in getting us to this point: US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, UK, UAE..and we’ve all dealt with the backlash of having created this mess….but of all of them, only Pakistans military and ISI CONTINUE to support it.

        Cutting off the support to these groups, including the Afghan Taliban, and shutting down their sanctuaries in Quetta and the FATA is something only Pakistan can do.It has refused to do so, especially in the case of groups that target Afghanistan or India…that refusal leads to US drone attacks and all other manner of atrocious war crimes which further enflame not only the radicals, but also others who’re justifiably angry at civiilian deaths…so the cycle begins anew and Pakistan itself is also targetted for seeming to cooperate with the US.

        These miltants don’t care about borders, distinctions between governments, the lives of civilians or anything else. They only care about their twisted ideology. Pakistan is beyond foolish to think it can support and control some of them, but leave others be as strategic assets to use against neighboring countries. Sooner or later they all converge because they have more in common with eachother than with any government. They ultimately exact a toll on civilians and drag entire nations into a hellish blackhole. Pakistans harms itself in the longrun by continuing to nuture them…

        • Avatar

          Aly Balagamwala

          May 31, 2011 at 11:49 AM

          “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
          – Oscar Wilde

          That pretty much sums up this whole situation.

    • Avatar

      F

      May 24, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      Interesting points. But lets take a closer look at them.

      Who armed and trained the mujahideen in the 80s to fight the Soviets? Yes, Pakistan land was used but it was primarily by the US for the US. I can easily point the finger and say that the majority of these people are Afghanis as evidenced by the fact they can’t even speak Urdu.

      So if we are really to play the blame game, then these are US trained militants from Afghanistan who are taking out their anger in Pakistan.

      Of course, Pakistan is guilty too. But placing the entire blame on the country is ridiculous.

      • Avatar

        ZAI

        May 24, 2011 at 4:50 PM

        What language the militants are speaking is hardly a case for anything.
        28 million Pashtuns live in Pakistan and it’s from their ranks that the Pakistani Taliban recruit. So the fact that they speak Pashto doesn’t mean much.

        As for the US and CIA arming/funding the mujahideen in the 80’s…yes, they did, and that’s exactly why the US is ALSO experiencing blowback in regards to al-Qaeda. Not only did they fund the mujahideen, they encouraged and allowed the ISI to funnel the funds to the most extremist mujahideen like Hekmetyar and Haqqani.

        That being said, times have changed. At the very least the US, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and other countries are drawing a line now and attempting to shut down these extremists…but Pakistan is not. Pakistan continues to fund and support them as a way to exert influence in Afghanistan and India. So, the choice NOW is again for Pakistan to make: keep supporting these freaks and put itself at risk or join the rest of the world in combating them.

    • Avatar

      Sameer

      May 25, 2011 at 11:17 PM

      You are only exaggerate and you are making it sound simplistic.Can you point any evidence that Pakistan supported terrorism in Afghanistan or Indian. If you mean Taliban, then Taliban are not terrorist by any definition. They maybe fundementalist. Even the USA now is talking with them. As for India, Pakistan was not supporting terrorist, but rather militant. Even India support militant by name of Mukti Bahani in former east Pakistan

  4. Avatar

    Ameera Khan

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    I was on a long, overnight duty at one of the largest hospitals in the city, on duty, as an intern when we started hearing of some “explosions” in a certain area of the city. But we were busy with our own patients whose lives were critical and all I heard sometime later was that it was an attack on one of the naval bases. When I came home the following afternoon (yesterday), I finally heard all that had been going on in the city and it sounded like a wild situation out of some crazy movie.

    When you say we all go about our lives, that’s exactly how it is… for me, as a doctor, I was busy with my own issues at work. All I remember is that one of our seniors told us not to step out of the ward alone since, if any injured were brought to our hospital (two surgical wards are right above our ward), some of their relatives might unleash their rage on the doctors (as has happened in the past). Later, when I turned on the news at home, I learned the post-mortem examination of the militants was conducted at our hospital. And that was it, back to work the following day, tending to our own patients and their issues…

  5. Avatar

    Uncle Tom

    May 24, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    Pakistan is a terrorist state.

    • Avatar

      Bilal Saeed

      May 25, 2011 at 7:48 PM

      That is precisely the plan of western governments. To declare pakistan or any other “stan” a terrorist state in need of immediate attention. The rampant ignorance amongst the general world population takes centre stage as brilliantly driven media bandwagon conjours up the new “Osama bin laden. Armies get the marching orders and the goodwill nod by the “innocent” citiziens of a country halfway across the world is broadcasted on news as the beginning of yet another war on isla….terrorism. Another country invaded, pillaged and flagged as possible important strategic location for future conflict(s) and/or “free oil”.

      Sadly everyone forgets the part where generations are destroyed for money and power but its alright, after all its “collateral damage”. Then you have the 10 year old orphan who has never heard of this “free country” before but now sees its people running a free recruitment service of al-qaeda near the local mosque. “We will give you the armor and the anger to carry out revenge attacks when you are old enough to understand why we are here”, reads the advertising board.

      10 years on. This “…stan” is a terrorist state. We must do something about it. Ok we need a new man to pin this one on, says the “democratic leader of a free nation”. By the way, what do we need this time? Oil or a place to launder our hard earned money in a war we started somewhere else?

  6. Avatar

    Abu Kamel

    May 25, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    Bismillah

    As salam alaikum
    I am saddened that there is not greater political awareness and insight which is compatible with Islam at this Muslim website which frequently addresses world events.

    First, this naval base assault is NOT part of the Global War on Terror, unless you adopt the American neo conservative worldview (from which this phrase is originated). Not even Obama uses this phrase anymore.

    Which worldview do YOU adopt?
    Because Islam has its own worldview, just as Islam is a complete Deen.

    Second, the naval base assault is a political event as much as it is a militant insurgent event. And by politics, I mean the Islamic meaning: the affairs of the people. The Prophet (saaw) is reported to have said whomever is not concerned about the affairs of the people is not from among us. And the ‘affairs of the people’ is translated from the arabic word “sa’ sa”, which is expanded as siyasa- politics.

    So the affairs of the people are the legitimate if not required matter for people- not something left for others to manage at their own will.

    And militancy is an extension of politics- material action is an expression of and viewpoint on the affairs of some people. In this case, its regarding the Pakistani military and government.

    Third, if one examines Pakistan’s affairs internally, one will see that not only are their many affairs which are not governed according to what Allah has revealed, but the very authority and political sovereignty of the Muslim people of Pakistan have been undermined and betrayed by the existing Pakistan government. At what point does a government loose its legitimacy, its authority to rule?

    Fourth, does a government loose its authority to rule when it defies Allah? Does a government loose its authority and legitimacy when it allows foreign militaries to enter its territory, set up a dangerous, volatile military base, like the USJSOC forward operating base at a naval base in Karachi, and engage in military attacks on Pakistani and Muslim people within Pakistan?

    Let it be known, there is a US special forces forward operating base stationed within a naval base in Karachi since 2006 as permitted by the Pakistani government. And this base is the origin of assaults and operations for the US JSOC throughout central Asia, excluding NATO run Afghanistan. This was reported in Asia Times and the Nation (US edition). Also reported in the Nation by Jeremy Scahill, Pakistani government granted the US military and its contractors, namely Blackwater/Xe, authorization to engage in searches for OBL and al Qaida in Pakistan with the warning that the Pakistani govt would DENY knowledge of such searches and activities were they to be successful. and Scahill reported this in 2009 in his article: Secret War on Pakistan.

    So at what point does Zardari’s administration loose legitimacy? At what point was allowing the US special forces to intercede in Pakistan an act of sedition or treason?

    Fifth, Muslim people have a greater right to autonomy and political sovereignty/authority over their affairs than America has to interlope, usurp, intervene, and interrupt Muslim affairs for whatever their expressed justification, including the Global War on Terror. And that’s where my original question comes in:

    Sixth, does Muslim Matters recognize the right of Pakistani Muslims to maintain, secure, defend, and uphold their autonomy and political sovereignty against any who betray it, jeopardize it, willfully undermine it?

    Insha Allah I will stop here in hopes that there will be a constructive discussion on these issues.
    I welcome all responses.

    Abu Kamel

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      May 31, 2011 at 12:13 PM

      Brother Abu Kamel

      You make some great points that are really important. However, your comment also suggests that I, as a citizen of Pakistan, should also take up arms as the government is not legitimate and that I should start bombing military assets.

      There is no doubt that Islam is the complete deen. There is no doubt that the government of Pakistan is not Islamic. However, there is really no state out there which is Islamic. Does that mean citizens all over the world should take up arms and start attacking military and civil establishments? Or go on a suicide bombing spree?

      At what point was allowing the US special forces to intercede in Pakistan an act of sedition or treason?

      If you are a Pakistani then you should definitely stand up and ask this question of the elected government.

      Fifth, Muslim people have a greater right to autonomy and political sovereignty/authority over their affairs than America has to interlope, usurp, intervene, and interrupt Muslim affairs for whatever their expressed justification, including the Global War on Terror. And that’s where my original question comes in:
      Having a right to autonomy and political sovereignty over ones affairs means attacking a military establishment and causing more than 70 million dollars damage to assets that are vital for defense of the country?

      Sixth, does Muslim Matters recognize the right of Pakistani Muslims to maintain, secure, defend, and uphold their autonomy and political sovereignty against any who betray it, jeopardize it, willfully undermine it?

      I as a Pakistani Muslim (but why Muslims only? What about the other citizens? Don’t they have rights?) recognize my right to “maintain, secure, defend, and uphold their autonomy and political sovereignty against any who betray it, jeopardize it, willfully undermine it”. Again I would not do it by taking up arms and causing harm to my country’s assets and defense.

      • Avatar

        be

        June 19, 2011 at 1:19 PM

        MashaAllah very pertinent understanding ….
        most of the time those terrorists-militants or whatever are used by and manipulated by others
        intelligence organisations …the end is to bring to chaos Pakistan and “balakanize” it …

        http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25009

        a must read article !!

  7. Avatar

    Chaz

    May 25, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Religiously speaking, the group of Muslims who enjoy the highest quality of life and experience the most educational opportunities and bright futures for their children, not to mention a unparalleled level of religious expression, are those living in N. America or Europe, these governments are having no hint of Islamic law to them. Meanwhile, the group of Christians, Jews and other religious minorities who experience the most persecution and suffering, and who often have to pay higher taxes and have to take low paying positions because of lack of education, live in countries where there’s heavy Islamic law. It also appears that many, if not the majority of Muslims living in their Islamic counties would risk their life to see change or leave their homelands. But one must realize that “ideas have consequences”. You do the math
    Thanks for not deleting my coment.

    • Avatar

      Muddassir

      May 25, 2011 at 11:58 PM

      Should we just take your word and analysis as the truth? Without facts and figures to back up your conclusions, should not make such outrageous statements.

    • Avatar

      Abu Kamel

      May 26, 2011 at 1:06 AM

      Chaz,

      Your attempts to disrail the inclinations for Islam in public life, as a guidance of and template for government and society, and the complete implementation of Shariah are duly noted. But they are misleading. And on a purely intellectual level, they are unsubstantiated.

      1) There is NO state or government which meets the minimal Shariah standards of being representative of Islam in the world today. Not Sudan, not Saudia, not Iran, not Pakistan, none. And this has been so for nearly 100 years.
      Every state in the Muslim world has been constructed on Western ideological concepts, such as nationalism, has complied with Western based international and treaties, such as the UN charter. They have applied Western based political structures which have served as facades of authenticity while perpetrating oppression, such as legislative assemblies dominated by a ruler’s political party for decades, such as Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Algeria. These four countries have all been dominated by Western ideological concepts of liberalism and/or socialism or their hybridization, and have tinkered with Shariah for political pandering of the masses. Pakistan can be included with them.

      2) Prior to the invasion, occupation, colonization, and transformation of the Muslim world by Western imperial powers, nonMuslim minorities, especially Ahlil Kitab, experienced quite a lot of material enrichment, commercial success, had political representation and respected avenues of political recourse, and many other benefits of living in a Shariah dominated societies.

      But All historical arguments have political realties.
      It should be noted that prior to the colonization of the Muslim world by the Western empires, Western empires had a strategy of economic war. They intentionally sought to destroy the trade and commerce of the Ottoman caliphate and Muslim world and replace it by Western dominated sea trade and Western controlled commerce. Thus, they targetted the land trade from China and India across Asia by replacing it with sea trade. On a global scale, as well as regionally and locally. As Western sea trade gained superiority across the globe, Muslim dominated land trade caused economies throughout the Muslim world to falter, stagnate, and eventually fall into a depression.

      The effects of this depression were felt and eventually calcified and stagnated throughout the Ottoman state, which included India and other outlying but supported Islamic entities.

      The Ottoman government did not successfully respond to this sustained crisis. It actually incorporated the economic ideas of the same empires who caused this by including individual taxation on top of Shariah based revenue. Moreover, nonMuslims who enjoyed centuries of economic enrichment while living in Muslim lands and following Shariah were sometimes wrongly targetted for unIslamic taxation by the Ottoman state due to their disparity in wealth. As well, some of them had financial ties to Western interests, including supporting the end of Shariah in Muslim lands.

      3) The plight of nonMuslims in the Muslim countries today are a result of these two circumstances: the absence of Shariah and Islam in life, and the effects of the past 300 years of conflict with the West.

      4) In comparison, a “citizenship” based on BELIEF is superior to a “citizenship” based on NATIONALITY. After centuries of conflict, the Western model has transformed the planet into a world order which follows only the NATION STATE model and citizenship based on nationalities. But no person can choose in which nation they are born. A change of nationality occurs only through the powers of men, usually elite men who control a nation.

      For example, a person can be born in Japan, but if he is not over 75% Japanese ethnicity, meaning one parent 100% Japanese and the other 50%, then citizenship is denied him. And this regulation was inacted by a Japanese parliement. it served to resist any effort by any formerly colonized people who were born of Japanese men but foreign women, such as from Indonesia, Phillipines, Korea, China.

      In contrast, according to Shariah implemented in an Islamic state, any person can change his belief to Islam and become a citizen of the state based on his own individual will. Allah grants this for mankind. Whereas Man choose to empower himself over others.

      • Avatar

        H Y

        May 31, 2011 at 4:49 PM

        interesting.. is that all?

        • Avatar

          be

          June 19, 2011 at 1:02 PM

          For sure it is not…so much more to say but he highlighted some great points! JAK!

    • Avatar

      Humble Muslim

      June 1, 2011 at 8:53 AM

      Can’t argue with that. Truth hurts.

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#Current Affairs

When Racism Goes Viral: The Coronavirus And Modern Muslim Orientalism

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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.

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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What Indian Students Are Saying about the CAA NRC Project – And Its Implementation

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The Modi government has been trying to paint the Citizenship Amendment Bill (now Citizenship Amendment Act- CAA) as a humanitarian gesture for religious minorities from three select countries, and Home Minister Amit Shah had claimed in Parliament that no Muslim Indian needs to fear the CAB or the proposed National Register of Citizens, before the Bill had received the President’s nod to become a law on December 12.

But the students I spoke with are far from convinced, especially after the horrific incidents that unfolded at the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh.

 

Mohammad Amir, a former management student at AMU fears that if the Citizenship Act remains a law, it could set a precedent for religious bias in any future policy or legislation.

“Whether AMU or Jamia, protestors are viewing the CAA through the lens of the National Register of Citizens. There is a prevailing threat that our citizenship will be snatched away just because we follow a certain religion,” said Amir.

Iqra Raza, a student of literature at St Stephen’s College believes that Muslims have already become a target. Raza says she was attacked by a few ABVP goons on her way back from an anti-CAA protest in the North Campus of Delhi University.

“I was targeted for my hijab, cornered and beaten up. I was outnumbered seven to one and there was nothing I could have done. This was within 100 metres of police deployment, and even the university guards simply looked on as I cried and shouted for help,” she recalls, adding that the incident has traumatised her severely.

Raza shared that a second-year DU undergraduate wearing a hijab was also attacked on the very same day. Just days before, Prime Minister Modi while campaigning made a very obvious dog whistle remark targeting Muslims, saying that those creating violence could be identified “by what they were wearing”.

The CAA discriminates by granting expedited citizenship on the basis of religion, and by leaving out one religion in the list of other six, its true intent may indeed be to perpetuate the exclusion of Muslims from the citizenry.

Many of those I spoke to pointed out that the CAA does not mention the word “persecuted” or “persecution” anywhere in its text. This could mean that Shah’s talk of giving new hope to those allegedly facing religious persecution is just an eyewash.

“Due to the new CAA wording, a Muslim, someone who was previously considered a citizen of India could end up as a non-citizen,” says Hena Zuberi, editor-in-chief of MuslimMatters.org and head of the Washington DC office of the human rights organisation, Justice for All.

“While the Modi government claims that this is not the intent of the Act, the loophole is visibly large, and there is ample reason to believe that the path it provides for re-citizenship was the reason it was passed by Parliament,” Zuberi further said.

After huge protests in the northeast states by people opposing the new law for separate reasons, a number of students at universities elsewhere in India came out in protest, demanding that the government withdraw the Act completely.

Students at Jamia Millia Islamia were among the first to raise their voice. When they organised a protest march from their campus to Parliament House on December 13, they were stopped by police barricades. 

According to the testimony of a student who wishes to remain anonymous, the police threatened them saying that they should protest quietly in their homes, for the streets do not belong to them to do such things.

“They first started throwing mud or chappals or bottles at us that they had picked up from the road, and then they started pelting stones,” the student recounts. Those who tried to resist the police and break through the barricades were detained. The police also fired teargas shells that day, injuring about 30-40 people, according to his testimony.

Again on December 15, when students were protesting peacefully on the Jamia campus lawns, the police opened fire according to witnesses and assaulted any student they came across, regardless of whether or not they were a part of the protest.

“They went completely berserk once they broke the gates and came inside the campus,” says Alhayyat Pasha, a journalism student at Jamia, sharing what he described as one of the most terrible experiences of his life.

“I was just studying by myself in the library reading hall when the police started coming in numbers. I don’t think I have ever been so scared, I was just constantly shaking,” he said.

While the students took shelter in the library and bolted the doors, the police constantly fired inside and threw teargas shells. This shattered the glasses on the doors and windows, through which the students managed to escape, although some were dragged and beaten up, with their phones being taken away.

“I was lucky enough to have escaped, as I went straight to the gates before the police started rounding up the others,” says Pasha. 

A research scholar in sociology at Jamia said on condition of anonymity that what the Delhi Police did was a complete violation of human rights, and illegal also because they are not allowed to enter the campus without permission, nor without female cops being present.

An Assamese by birth, she says she was deeply affected by the CAA, although the NRC is acceptable to her. She explains that most people in Assam are against the CAA for reasons different from the exclusion of Muslims as is the case elsewhere in the country. 

“The NRC, which could have brought an end to the problem of illegal immigrants and border issues plaguing the state for long, will be completely nullified if the CAA comes into action,” she said.

The researcher confessed that she wasn’t very involved in the protests led by Jamia students in any way because she did not agree with their reasons. 

“But then the course of horrific incidents that took place left a spine chilling disturbance, and I was forced to change my mind”, she alleged.

But Shamik Banerjee, a Master’s student of media governance, feels that condemning the police assault will not make any difference, and similar incidents are very likely to occur in the future.

“Delhi Police has already set a precedent when it comes to dealing with student protests, and since this is a university with a Muslim name we don’t really expect anything better from them,” Banerjee said. He added that he is an upper-caste Hindu who was never made conscious of his religion as a student in a Muslim-majority campus space in all the time he has been there.

indian students

A protest at the Aligarh Muslim University against the Citizenship Amendment Act on December 13, 2019.. | Photo Credit: Manoj Aligadhi

 

Meanwhile, similar horrors were unfolding at the Aligarh Muslim University as well. It began with a mass hunger strike against the CAA and NRC on December 12, following the passage of the Bill. On 13th, more students joined in and gathered at the Bab-e-Syed masjid to protest against the police brutality in Jamia. The police then filed an FIR against 700 students for allegedly violating Section 144, although students later claimed that Section 144 hadn’t been imposed in the area at the time. 

The government deployed the Rapid Action Force at the university entrance gates and in the early hours of dawn suspended the internet in the area.

“It was like any other normal day, until we received a message that the gate has been broken and students are being choked with teargas” said a student who wished to remain anonymous. “Aligarh had become a battleground. People were being thrashed inside the campus, teargas and stun grenades were being thrown at the students, and bikes were being smashed.”

The student said that the Rapid Action Force entered the campus and set Room 46 of the Morrison Court on fire. The students were locked inside their own residential halls and washrooms.

A law student at AMU stated that that it takes five years of blood and sweat to complete a law degree, understand a single section or amendments, and a whole lifetime to fight for and practise the same. 

“A law that makes students evacuate prestigious institutions whose admission tests take months of preparation to crack cannot be implemented or accepted,” she said, adding that she still harbours a hope that the Supreme Court will scrap the Act.

“This is exactly what the government wants, and it is extremely saddening,” said Zeeshan Abdullah Shaikh, a student of medicine at AMU. “They will not let us study, and by making us evacuate our hostels they’re already making us feel like refugees running for our lives.”

“The way they came at us, in both Jamia and Aligarh, it was like they had no regard for our lives, neither as students nor as Muslims,” another student alleged. “There have been student protests and demonstrations in other universities a lot of times, but never has there been open firing and assault to this degree. It’s clear that our Muslim names are a marker.”

Michael Kugelman is the Deputy Director of the Asia Program (specialising in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and their relations with the US) at the Wilson Center in DC, which is a non-partisan policy forum that tackles global issues through independent research and open dialogue. According to him, universities in many places and not just in India can be a hotbed of activism as it encourages different and individualistic thoughts. 

This is also why universities with large Muslim student populations will be particularly concerning to the government, based on the assumption that those students would be particularly inclined to protest and oppose the law. They would try to suppress any opposition in such cases, even if they have been largely non-violent”, he said over a short interview.

However, according to Kugelman, the Indian Muslims do happen to have a surprising ally in the cause after all: the far-right Indian Hindus that oppose the citizenship law. 

He believes as the BJP does not want to alienate Indian Hindus, it could very well prove to be completely adverse to their exclusionary policy if they’re seen protesting with the Indian Muslims on a large scale.

“That show of unity could just be the very powerful thing that unsettles the ruling party in a big way”, he said. 

CAA Protest

Speaking from the Justice for All office in Washington, DC, Zuberi also concurred with this. She said that the government wants the Muslim youth to be crushed so that no resistance takes root, and in this process, to intimidate non-Muslim youth in the hope that they will eventually drop out of the protests, thinking it doesn’t affect them in any way.

Zuberi also mentioned her fear that if students from other religious communities were to stop taking part in the protests, Muslim students might be detained indefinitely under laws like the anti-sedition law – which governments in India have often used to detain or jail people opposed to their policies. 

Mohammad Assaduzzaman, who is currently pursuing a masters in material chemistry and mineralogy at the University of Bremen, said he would feel very scared to return to India in light of all that is happening, although he added that the huge number of non-Muslims taking part in the protests has given him a lot of hope.

Yet he too expressed a similar fear: what might happen if people from other religions stop lending support to the community after a point?

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Former Infowars / Alex Jones Staffer Admits Lying About Shariah Law Threat

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Former staff member and video editor for Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory media platform Infowars, Josh Owens, wrote in the New York Times he and other staff members knowingly faked and lied about stories regarding the threat of shari’ah law in the US.  He writes in particular about the community of Islamberg, stating:

“Days before, we spoke to the sheriff and the mayor of Deposit, N.Y., a nearby municipality. They both told us the people in Islamberg were kind, generous neighbors who welcomed the surrounding community into their homes, even celebrating holidays together.

The information did not meet our expectations, so we made it up, preying on the vulnerable and feeding the prejudices and fears of Jones’s audience. We ignored certain facts, fabricated others and took situations out of context to fit our narrative”

During the time the stories related to Islamberg and another town close to Detroit, Hamtramck, were receiving hit jobs from the Alex Jones camp, the San Bernadino shooting story occurred.  Owens wrote regarding this:

I knew that when the details emerged, they would substantiate the lies we pushed to Jones’s audience. It didn’t matter if the attack took place on the other side of the country or if the people in Islamberg had no connection to the perpetrators in San Bernardino. Jones’s listeners would draw imaginary lines between the two, and we were helping them do it.

The piece went on to cover the many eccentricies and insecurities of the egomaniacal personality that is Jones. He’s previously claimed that a type of psychosis is what caused him to believe and propagate stories and statements that are factually false such as the Sandy Hook massacre being staged.

The Muslim Oppression Profit Motive Vs The Truth

The reality is that Jones is one of many profiteers in the war against Muslims, monetizing fear and hatred through site clicks and advertising dollars.  In this regard, he is no different from the military industrial complex and law enforcement agencies that see Muslims and their people as an opportunity for career advancement and financial enrichment.

The cynical view might lead us to take a negative worldview – much like Jones, we might think the world is out to get us, everything is false flag and staged, and there’s a threat around every corner.  But I like the silver lining in Owens’ own statements:

I thought of the children who lived in Islamberg: how afraid their families must have felt when their communities were threatened and strangers appeared asking questions; how we chose to look past these people as individuals and impose on them more of the same unfair suspicions they already had to endure. And for what? Clickbait headlines, YouTube views?

Owens was in the belly of the proverbial beast, helping create lies and propaganda against our community he knew as false for the sake of the almighty dollar.  In the end, he recognized the truth, that the Muslims of Islamberg were not a threat, but good, decent people preyed upon by exploitative elements.

That recognition by Owens means he’s not the only one who knows this – for every person that admits it publicly, there are likely more that are silent, but feel the same.  We as Muslims have to continue doing as we always do – worship Allah alone, keep good manners, call to modesty and decency, be good neighbors, and never feel that our opponents are so beyond the pale that perhaps one day they may come to admit their wronging of us, become our best allies and even become Muslim after a political career of opposing us, such as the former right hand man of Geert Wilders, Joram van Klaveren as well as Arnoud van Doorn and his son.

Discredited Infowars Stories:

 

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