Update 10/12/2012: Jazakumullahu khayran to everyone who had questions. Responses have been added to the end of this article!
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When over 500,000 Iraqi children were killed by US sanctions in the 1990’s, how helpless did you feel?
On October 11, 2012, I read an article that made me feel it was all happening again, this time in Iran. Acclaimed commentator and Constitutional Law Attorney Glenn Greenwald wrote in the Guardian, the respected British publication, about the tragedy of US sanctions against Iraq and how the US is repeating the same mistakes with its sanctions against Iran.
In the 1990’s, sanctions were supposed to bring Saddam Hussein to his knees. Instead, sanctions helped Saddam Hussein consolidate power by bringing Iraq’s populace to its knees. Greenwald’s article also explains, how currently the Iranian middle class is becoming an endangered species thanks to US sanctions, and the impact that will have on any honest hopes for reform. And he provides insights like this one: “In 2001, the writer Chuck Sudetic visited Iraq and then wrote in Mother Jones about what he saw: namely, that the US-led sanctions regime ‘killed more civilians than all the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons used in human history.’”
Within its first six years, US sanctions against Iraq killed well over 500,000 children. Even the US mass media took notice of the suffering of Iraq’s children. So it was that in 1996 the CBS News program “60 Minutes” interviewed then-Ambassador Madeleine Albright about the deaths.
At that time she held the post of United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Just a few months later, in December of that year, President Clinton nominated Madeleine Albright to be his next Secretary of State. She had the unanimous support of the United States Senate, 99-0, and she was sworn in that January. To be fair to Ms. Albright, in 2007 she was interviewed briefly by “Democracy Now!” Then she said forcefully how much she regretted her words back in 1996. And the former Secretary of State claimed as her success the program by which Iraq sold oil to pay for food and medicine to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people.
But the children, the aged, and the ordinary people of Iran who care for them do not have anyone in the US government to champion them. Instead, as Greenwald writes, “Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman justified the Iran sanctions regime this way: ‘Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.’“
But these are not the 1990’s, alhamdulillah. We are the inheritors of the Arab Spring, and we have the means, alhamdulillah, to help the children of Iran. There is a way to pressure the US government at least to act with humanity and decency towards the children of Iran.
The first step is to make the White House address this issue. 25,000 signatures on this petition will accomplish that step. (You will need to create an account at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/user/register to sign this petition. Please see “Update” below if you have any trouble signing!)
Then as soon as you have signed, please share this article with others. You can copy/paste the text, images, or videos used in this article or the text of the petition (which you can find at the bottom of this article) into your own email, posts on Facebook, tweets, or fliers at your school, mosque, or community center. The short URL, http://wh.gov/KnnX, works well in Twitter posts or in text messages. You may want to blog about this petition, especially after reading Greenwald’s article or this article published by the organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
Again, encouraging others to sign is as important as signing yourself. Here’s some advice that may help you.
1. Share this article: Just click the buttons at the top or bottom of this article.
2. Facebook or Twitter: Post the petition to your Facebook wall or Tweet it. Here are two sample messages you can copy and paste into Facebook or Twitter:
I just signed a petition on the White House petitions site, “We the People.” Will you sign it? http://wh.gov/KnnX
– OR –
Please sign, share, RT: “Certify that US sanctions will not spread suffering and death among Iranian children.” http://wh.gov/KnnX
If you haven’t already done so, you can view and sign the petition here: http://wh.gov/KnnX
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for taking the time to read this article, to sign the petition, and to share the message with others. I pray that the One Who Created me, you, our leaders, and all the children this petition hopes to save, that He will put blessings and providence in these efforts. Indeed, He is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, and He loves those who show mercy and compassion to His creation.
As promised here’s the text of the petition:
We Petition the Obama Administration to:
Certify that US sanctions will not spread suffering and death among Iranian children.
In 1996, then-Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked about reports that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US-imposed sanctions. She replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”
Former UN official, Denis Halliday, said US sanctions on Iraq met the formal definition of genocide: “We are now in there responsible for killing people, destroying their families, their children, allowing their older parents to die for lack of basic medicines. We’re in there allowing children to die who were not born yet when Saddam Hussein made the mistake of invading Kuwait.”
We the undersigned believe the US does not need to kill children to achieve any foreign policy goal. US sanctions must be certified not to spread children’s suffering.
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Update 10/12/2012: Many of you have had questions about how to sign the petition. The petition can be signed at this White House URL: http://wh.gov/KnnX. But if you have never signed a White House petition, you will need to register first. Here’s the advice from that site’s FAQ page:
1.) Go to https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/user/register and enter your account information there.
2.) You will receive an email within a few minutes asking you to click on a link to verify your email address. Click on the link in the email (or cut and paste it into your web browser).
3.) Once you have verified your email address, you’re logged into the system.
4.) Return to the petition you wish to sign. (http://wh.gov/KnnX)
5.) Click the button to sign the petition.
When you share the petition with other people, please give them the above advice, too. Here are answers to some of the other questions that have been asked:
Q1. Is any group or organization “behind” this petition. A. No, this petition was a spontaneous response, alhamdolillah, to reading Glenn Greenwald’s article, and to the memories evoked by it of the suffering of the Iraqi people.
Q2. Are there any Muslimmatters.org articles from the Iraq sanctions? A. No, MM was not founded until 2007, but there remain on-line numerous excellent articles on the suffering of the Iraqi people, including this 11/13/1998 article published by the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA), “Autopsy of a Disaster: The US Sanctions Policy on Iraq.”
Q3. Are there more statistics than the 500,000 deaths? A. Yes, plenty of them. For example, the IPA article above includes many references including this one: “October 4, 1996: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) releases report on Iraq. ‘Around 4,500 children under the age of five are dying here every month from hunger and disease,’ said Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF’s representative for Iraq.”
Q4. Why not simply ask the President to repeal sanctions? A. The goal of the petition is to help prevent present-day Iran sanctions from repeating the human tragedy wrought by Iraq sanctions in the 1990’s. Because “sanctions” are a foreign policy “tool” used by many governments for centuries if not millennia, the President might find many excuses and precedents to “justify” sanctions. However, none of those would justify killing hundreds of thousands of children. The key is to focus the debate on that issue, to bring it back to that issue over and over again, if necessary, so that the President cannot justify those sanctions which wreak devastation upon children.
Q5. Why ask the President to “certify” that the sanctions are not spreading suffering and death? A. When the US Congress wants the President or Cabinet-level officials to conform to specific behavior, Congress often uses the phrase, “certify to Congress.” A casual search of bills before the current Congress reveals some 30 bills with that phrase, “certify to Congress,” including notoriously, page 6 of this example, H.R. 5734. The President will not have a difficult time understanding what the petition asks for, if inshaAllah, it collects enough signatures.
Q6. Why Iran? A. Frankly, because the article that motivated this petition focused on how sanctions in Iran may replicate the humanitarian disaster that took place in Iraq in the 1990’s. Nevertheless, the Iran sanctions are the most publicized and well-known of the present “sanction regimes.” If the US changes its sanctions policy to protect children from starvation and death by privation, then sanctions policy in general may change, which would be a wonderful barakah from this work, bi’idhnillah.
Q7. Do all sanctions cause such dramatic suffering. A. No. When the US places sanctions on a country, those sanctions can be very broad or very specific. Also, the enforcement of sanctions can vary widely and dramatically. Finally, even if one country imposes the harshest sanctions, with the strictest enforcement, the effect of those sanctions may be lessened or nullified if other countries support the sanctioned people. Thus, there are many ways for a government to place sanctions without causing the widespread deaths of innocent children that the US caused in Iraq in the 1990’s. An interesting article on the subject of sanctions generally was published by Slate on 914/1996, and simply titled “Economic Sanctions.” This 8/22/2012 Haaeretz article has nothing to do with Iran, “25 Years After Slapping Sanctions on South Africa, Tables Have Turned on Israel,” but Israel is a perfect example of a country whose children could easily survive sanctions with a little help from its friends. An example of a country that has long-weathered US sanctions because of the trade and compassion of other countries is Cuba.
Q8. Didn’t sanctions against South Africa overthrow Apartheid? There are recent articles discussing the South Africa sanctions. This 3/26/2012 Huffington Post article “Applying the Lessons of South Africa Sanctions to Iran” suggests South Africa sanctions were not beneficial. But for compelling academic arguments, turen to this 1999 paper by Yale University economist, Philip I. Levy, which you can download as a pdf, “Sanctions on South Africa: What Did They Do?” Levy would say, not as much as the fall of the Soviet Union and the widespread collapse of communism.
Sh. Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives yesterday, May, 9th, 2019 at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas.
Immediately since, right wing media platforms have begun spreading negative coverage of the Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists as well as criticism of Israel policies.
News outlets citing the criticism have pointed to a post from The Investigative Project on Terrorism or ITP, as the source. The ITP was founded by and directed by noted Islamophobe Steven Emerson. Emerson’s history of hate speech has been documented for over two decades.
Since then, the story has been carried forward by multiple press outlets.
The immediate consequence of this has been the direction of online hate towards what has been Imam Omar Suleiman’s long history of preaching unity in the US socio-political sphere.
“Since my invocation I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity,” Imam Omar Suleiman says. “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”
MuslimMatters is proud to stand by Imam Omar Suleiman, and we invite our readers to share the evidence that counters the accusations against him of anti-semitism, bigotry, and hate. We would also encourage you to reach out, support, and amplify voices of support like Representative E.B.Johnson, and Representative Colin Allred.
You can help counter the false narrative, simply by sharing evidence of Imam Omar Suleiman’s work. It speaks for itself, and you can share it at the hashtag #UnitedForOmar
At an interfaith panel discussion, three North Texas religious leaders promoted understanding and dialogue among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. Source: DMagazine.com
The congregation, led by Imam Omar Suleiman, penned more than 150 cards and letters. source: WFAA News
“We must recognize that the white supremacy that threatens the black and Latino communities, is the same white supremacy that spurs Islamophobia and antisemitism,” -Imam Omar Suleiman
Source: Bend The Arc
“When any community is targeted, they need to see a united faith voice — that all communities come together and express complete rejection of anything that would pit our society against one another more than it already is.” -Imam Omar Suleiman
Source: Kera News
Source: The Carter Center
Imam: After devastating New Zealand attack, we will not be deterred
“My wife and I decided to take our kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community. My 5-year-old played with kids his age while we mourned inside, resisting hate even unknowingly with his innocence…” Source: CNN
Four Marathons in Three Weeks: One Man is Running to Bring Clean Water to Senegal
When Haroon Mota committed to running his first marathon in 2012, he admits he didn’t give it too much thought.
London was hosting the Summer Olympics that year. British distance runner Mo Farah was reaching the peak of his fame as a local and international sports hero. A lot of people in England were taking up recreational running and, well, it was just a popular thing to do to sign up for the London Marathon.
But by the time Mota began the 26.2-mile race, he had found a focus and a purpose.
In the months leading up to the London Marathon, he raised over £7000 ($8,715 US) in donations for the Teenage Cancer Fund.
Mota had done similar projects in the past, taking on mountain-climbing challenges while raising money for charities such as Islamic Relief’s Orphan Campaign. His athletic background included kickboxing, mixed martial arts and soccer.
But running was a new venture. The marathon was intended to be a one-time experience, but Mota soon made running a lifestyle. Since then, he has run over 20 half-marathons and completed the London Marathon three times, using the events as challenges to raise money for a variety of charitable causes.
Sometimes, Mota runs alone. Other times, he puts together teams of runners. The benefit there is two-fold: Not only to raise money for charities, but also to promote and encourage fitness and exercise to his peers in the Muslim community.
This month, Mota is taking things to another level.
The 31-year-old, who works as the fundraising manager for the non-profit humanitarian organization PennyAppeal, is aiming to run four marathons over the next three weeks: the Manchester Marathon on April 2, the Paris Marathon on April 9, the Boston Marathon on April 17, and concluding with the London Marathon on April 23.
The name of this challenge is #Running4Dad. Mota’s motivation is his father, Hafiz Kasim Mota, who died in a car accident in 2013.
Haroon’s goal is to raise £20,000 ($24,900 US) to build a solar water and power center in Senegal, in memory of his father.
CLICK HERE to donate to #Running4Dad and help bring clean water to Senegal.
Myanmar Matters: Protect The Rohingya, Protect Us All
By Jamila Hanan
The plight of the Rohingya, you must have heard about it by now: one million people living in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in the state of Arakan (renamed Rakhine) on the coastline bordering Bangladesh. Denied their right to citizenship by a law passed in 1982, the Rohingya are the world’s most persecuted minority. There are at least another one million living in exile, many of whom have shocking stories to tell of how they escaped the persecution, now dreaming of one day returning to their homeland, but they know it’s a far off dream.
I was first introduced to their catastrophe in July 2012. It was just one call from a concerned activist friend travelling in that area that obliged me to look. What I found to be happening was so horrific, and so hidden, that I felt compelled to do something.
In my naivety, I started to frantically call on media and human rights organisations to urgently report and act. I was shocked that such atrocities could be happening, in this day and age, and no one seemed to know about it. I thought that once the media got hold of the story it would be big news, and people would come rushing to help. I thought that the United Nations would be compelled to protect the Rohingya when they had received information about the unfolding genocide. How wrong I was.
Much has happened since then. After the initial attacks where thousands were systematically rounded up by the military and herded into internment camps, there was a second well co-ordinated attack in October 2012 that cleared much Rohingya land overnight. Villages were levelled to the ground, making way for new developments, in the region of Kyauk Phyu, Myanmar’s new economic development zone.
“There’s no oil in Burma, that’s why no-one will act,” I hear repeatedly complained on social media. This is wrong. The entire region in question was up for tender for oil and gas exploration. Hardly a country in the world wasn’t interested in winning contracts for their private sectors. In addition, a new oil gas pipeline was about to start pumping oil and gas from the coast where the Rohingya lived, to take it up to China, thus cutting out the need to carry it all around the Indochina Peninsula. A deep sea port was being built in Rakhine, to take in oil tankers from the Middle East.
This whole area of Rakhine is key to the future development plans of Myanmar, which is key to the development of the entire South East of Asia. What is happening now to the Rohingya must be seen in the context of what is happening in the light of economic developments. It cannot be dismissed as just coincidence that some of the final sanctions were lifted by the US and blacklist scrubbed, less than 2 days before the recent ‘clearance operation’ in the township of Maungdaw began.
Our recently launched campaign, #WeAreAllRohingyaNow, intends to cut through the religious narrative. For certain there are religious and ethnic tensions in Myanmar, but these have been allowed to foster, for military gain. The Rohingya are used as a scapegoat for the country’s problems: an irrational fear of Muslims is being used to rally the rest of the population in support of the military who offer security in the face of a changing world (hmmm.. remind you of anything happening anywhere else in the world maybe?). But ethnic tension is not the cause of the problems. What is driving the military-led persecution at this time, is the desire to redevelop this part of the land, and it is not just the Rohingya who are suffering, but also the local Rakhine people too, as land is grabbed and resources exploited, with little if anything returned to the people who live there. So long as public attention is kept firmly on driving the Rohingya out, exploitation by the military and their investors will go largely unnoticed.
Our campaign is going to be approaching those corporations who are investing in Myanmar, to ask them to face up to the responsibilities that come with the power that they hold. The United Nations will not act without permission from our politicians, yet our politicians are always constrained by economic interests. Multinational corporations hold more power than many of us realise, and they should use their powers for good. If they do not, then we, as consumers, should hold these organisations to account.
One multinational corporation that has intentions to set up its central office for South East Asia is Unilever, the third largest consumer goods company in the world. They have already invested over half a billion dollars in Myanmar. They profess to be forward-thinking in their stance as an ethical company, under the leadership of their CEO Paul Polman, who actually encourages consumers to call on big businesses to do more, and to withhold our spending from them if they do not.
For this reason, #WeAreAllRohingyaNow reached out to Paul Polman, with an open letter, calling on Unilever to take a stand for the rights of the Rohingya. Due to pressure from the campaign, Unilever did take a big step forward, in tweeting their support for the Rohingya and adding their company’s name to a letter regarding the Rohingya that was addressed to the United Nations and signed by Paul Polman in December. However, we are still awaiting their reply to our own letter asking them about their responsibilities in regards to the Rohingya and their investments in Myanmar.
We believe that large corporations should be doing much more to protect the Rohingya. It is simply not an option for these organisations to be investing in Myanmar, in the face of an unfolding genocide, whilst remaining silent. In addition, they should not be passing the buck to the United Nations, who we all know are powerless due to governmental business constraints. It is they themselves who hold the leverage with the Myanmar military to bring about a satisfactory solution for the Rohingya: the restoration of their citizenship.
Our campaign is not asking companies to pull out of Myanmar, but we are asking them to act in the interest of human rights, and to stop this genocide. We have the capability to organise large scale actions, such as boycotts, but we would much rather keep a positive relationship with businesses as much as possible. This is a genuine outreach, to encourage corporations to start living up to their ethical responsibilities, and to do far more than issue statements of concern, but to act.
I encourage everyone reading to please support us in our campaign. By standing for the rights of the Rohingya, we are in fact standing for the rights of Muslims and all persecuted minorities across the world. If we ignore what is happening today and do nothing, tomorrow it is no exaggeration to say that this could actually be you suffering similar persecutions.
Our campaign has a ground breaking strategy that is already reaping results; it is well organised and evolving. We are sending out action alerts to everyone that registers, via email and Twitter direct message, which are simple steps anyone can take in their own time, from anywhere with an internet connection, that will bring added power to this campaign. Please take a moment to register to join us, and be a part of this exciting new movement for change: bit.do/rohingyaregister
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