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8 Reasons Why Israel is Under Rocket Attack

We always hear of Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’. What about Palestinian right to not be occupied and live under a brutal siege?

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The “peace-loving nation” of Israel is yet again at the brink of an existential annihilation due to homemade rocket attacks from Gaza — or so they would have you believe. As the Israel-Palestine conflict rages, we’ve heard the same boilerplate statements about “Israel’s right to defend itself” and “No country would tolerate rocket attacks, so why should Israel?”

But why are rockets being fired into Israel in the first place?  “Because the Palestinians are terrorists and anti-Semites.” Perhaps, or perhaps there are few more plausible explanations for Palestinian armed resistance; consider the following:

1. The Occupation

Israel, with U.S. support, has militarily occupied the Gaza Strip (along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem) since 1967. The belligerent occupation, now in its 47th year, is one of the longest, bloodiest and brutal in human history — over 2,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza alone in the last seven years.

Up until 2005, Israel maintained illegal Jewish colonies in the Gaza Strip as well. It has since disbanded these colonies and thus claims it’s no longer occupying the Gaza strip. Israel is alone in holding this deceptive view; the UN, US State Department, global NGO’s and legal scholars all consider Gaza a part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories because Israel exercises complete military control over it.

2. The Siege

Israel, with U.S. backing, has laid a brutal siege in the Gaza Strip since 2007. It has blocked off air, land and water access to the Strip — nothing goes in, nothing comes out. This tiny strip of land is home to some 1.7 million people; due to its cage-like setup, Gaza has aptly been described as the ‘world’s largest open air prison.’

The siege has stifled Gaza’s economy, destroyed its infrastructure and has cut off access to some of the most basic amenities needed to live a dignified life. Today, almost 80 per cent of Gazans are dependent on aid as a result of the blockade. The UN has warned Gaza will be inhospitable by 2020 if the siege continues.

3. The Water Crises

Israel’s discriminatory division of water means that Palestinians get 70 litres a day per person, far below the 100 liters per capita minimum, while the Israeli’s get four times this amount. Limiting the water supply results in Gazan households receiving water for only six-eight hours at a time about every other day. Israel severely damaged the sewage treatment infrastructure in Gaza during its 2009 assault; the blockade means the resources needed for repairs are unavailable.

sewageAs a result, only 25 per cent of Gaza’s waste water is treated; 90 million liters of untreated or partially treated sewage is dumped into the Mediterranean every day. Contamination of the territory’s ground water is serious concern; about 90 per cent of the water supply in the Strip is unfit for human consumption.  Due to over-pumping and sewage contamination Gaza’s only water source, its Coastal Aquifer, is damaged past the point of no return — it will expire in 2016.

4. Scarcity of Fuel and Electricity

Gaza is under a chronic power shortage due to the siege; Israel has severely limited the fuel supply needed to operate the only power plant in the territory. Only 46 per cent of Gaza’s electricity needs are being met currently; this has triggered rolling power outages of 12 hours everyday. Amongst other things, this lack of power means that hundreds of crucial medical devices at hospital are non-functional, including Gaza’s only MRI machine.

5. Leveling of Land and Destruction of Property

The Israeli army conducts weekly incursions into the Gaza Strip to destroy the land it has declared as ‘no-go zone.’ Its tanks, bulldozers and military jeeps, accompanied by helicopters and drones, systematically destroy fruit bearing trees and agricultural land in the Gaza strip. Civilian infrastructure in this area is also demolished; this includes hundreds of houses, wells and chicken farms — mosques and schools are demolished as well.

6. Travel Bans

Israel’s siege has meant that it is virtually impossible for Gazans to leave the occupied territory. They can’t even leave to visit their relatives in the West Bank, let alone in Israel. Gazans with spouses in Israel or the West Bank are forced to live in separation; simple matters such as raising a family are rendered impracticable. Permission to leave even for severe emergencies is rarely given.

By dividing Palestinians, Israel successfully employs the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy like colonial powers of the past. The people of Gaza can’t even seek asylum in other countries due to this restriction on movement. Even students are prohibited from going abroad, or even the West Bank, for higher education; visas of several winners of U.S. Fulbright Scholarships have been revoked in the past.

gaza7. Suppression of Agriculture 

The Israeli army created a ‘no-go zone’ along the Israel-Gaza border that Palestinians cannot enter. This ‘buffer region’ extends up to 1,500 meters at times into the Strip and includes some of its most fertile land. As a result, 35 per cent of the agricultural space in Gaza is off-limits to farmers. This has seriously damaged the food economy and harshly penalized innocent farmers. Palestinians are fired at arbitrarily if they try to enter this region; farmers suffer serious injuries, and at times death, as a result of this indiscriminate firing.

8. Restrictions on Fishing

Israel has announced that access to the sea six nautical miles beyond Gaza’s shore is prohibited for fisherman. This means that 85 per cent of fishing waters granted to Palestinians under the Oslo Accords is now inaccessible; this has severely impacted Gaza’s coastal economy. Similar to the restricted areas on land, Palestinian fishermen are regularly exposed to warning fire by Israeli naval forces, their fishing boats are intercepted and they are detained — all for the harmless act of fishing.

This is a short list of the some of the unspeakable crimes Israel commits on a defenseless population; they are at the root of this conflict. Rocket attacks from Gaza are a desperate response to these injustices – how does our government manage to omit this when brazenly expressing support for Israel ?  In light of the above, let’s try to counter some of the nonsense coming out of the foreign affairs office: No people would ever tolerate an oppressive occupation and an unjust siege, so why should the Palestinians?

[Update: July 22, 8:20 pm – I’ve included a section to highlight the refugee crises as well]

9. The Refugee Crises

Of 1.5 million people living in Gaza, 1.2 million are registered refugees spread across eight camps. These refugees are made up of Palestinians, and now their decedents, who were expelled from present-day Israel in during the mass expulsion or Nakba in 1948. Since the newly created state of Israel denied the right of return to these refugees, they have been trapped in the refugee camps for the past 66 years. These refugee camps are overcrowded, cramped and under utter disrepair – unlivable by any standards.  Attempts to rebuild or renovate the camps have been restricted due to the siege. The humanitarian crisis in the camps is only magnified compared to the rest of Palestine; unemployment is high, food is scarce and fuel is scant.

An edited version of this piece first appeared at

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Waleed Ahmed writes on current affairs and politics for MuslimMatters. He focuses on Muslim minorities, human rights and the Middle-Eastern conflict. Based out of Montreal, he's currently pursuing a Ph.D. at McGill University in fundamental physics. Waleed also has a keen interest in studying Arabic and French. He spends his spare time reading, playing basketball and praying for Jon Stewart to run in the next presidential election.



  1. Avatar


    July 19, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    This article needs to be copy pasted……everywhere.

    • Avatar


      July 25, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      lol funny because in 2005 hamas started shooting rockets before the siege :) that’s why they received the siege

      i am a muslim and i live in israel and i am tired of muslims spreading lies!
      and in Ramadhan aoozobiALLAH may ALLAH guide the ummah

      • Avatar


        July 26, 2014 at 7:07 PM

        What’s the truth then?

      • Avatar


        July 31, 2014 at 11:57 PM

        Muslim? Live in israel? Yeah right…

      • Avatar


        August 1, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Spreading lies?! Then I suppose all the NON-MUSLIM historical accounts of Britain making deals with both Jews and Arabs, backstabbing the Palestinians, and giving Jews free reign in their occupation is a lie, too, right?

        I dunno about you… but if some psycho government gave a complete stranger full rights to kick me out of my house, I’d be firing rockets at them too.

        Authubillah, indeed.

        And YES, may Allah guide the Muslims who chose to do nothing about this situation!!

        And may Allah ESPECIALLY set the Muslims of Palestine free!!

      • Avatar


        April 21, 2015 at 8:36 PM

        you are a muslim indeed, but not a sincere muslid

    • Avatar

      ahsan arshad

      July 25, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      copy and paste everywhere is the way to go.

  2. Avatar


    July 20, 2014 at 3:39 AM

    Reason #9 Gaza is under attack:

    Because Sisi, Saudis, Kuwaitis, UAE and others want Hamas destroyed.
    Israel is doing the visible dirty work, but let us not fool ourselves that plenty of regional actors
    aren’t happy with and are perhaps even encouraging what is going on. Hamas gambled on Morsi
    and lost big time…recent developments and attitudes in surrounding Arab nations have
    also sent message to Israel that it has a green light.It is an odd, odd day when the non-Arab
    Muslim countries and non-Muslim governments, excepting the anglo-sphere,
    are most supportive of the Palestinian cause. I’m no fan of Hamas, but Egypt, Jordan
    and the gulf countries, excluding Qatar, have totally betrayed the Palestinians.

    God help the Palestinian people and deliver them from this misery.

    • Avatar


      July 20, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      Just trying to distribute blame away from Israel? Israel IS the sole responsible party here.

      • Avatar


        July 20, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        Oh yeah, ofcourse…
        Egyptian, American & Saudi governments, et. al. are totally innocent:
        Mutual anti-Iranian interests, mutual enmity against Muslim Brotherhood(which Hamas is seen as an off-shoot of), mutual preference of preserving the regional status-quo, mutual hostility
        to Turkey under Erdogan, mutual anti-pathy towards Qatar and on and on and on.
        Why so eager for Saudi and UAE to play the role of mediator? As opposed to Qatar, Turkey
        or European countries?
        From a right-wing crazy think-tank….however the QUOTES all have links and
        aren’t wrong.

        Sorry man….ain’t buying it.
        Israel is responsible for the actions themselves…I never said different in my previous comment.
        However there is a bigger picture and plenty of the neighboring rulers are happy with
        what Israel is doing or even cooperating behind the scenes. That’s just the reality
        of interests in the modern Middle East. I’m not drawing ANY blame away from Israel…but I’m
        not gonna pretend Israel doesn’t have the FULL support of the gas station kleptocrats and their
        dependents…just like it will if and when it attacks Iran…or confronts Turkey…or works against Qatar…

      • Avatar


        July 26, 2014 at 7:10 PM

        With a little help from it’s friends – HAMAS, FATAH, Other Palestinian Sides, Saudis, Emiratis, Kuwaitis, Jordanians!

    • Avatar

      Juma Mohamed Mtema

      July 21, 2014 at 7:17 AM

      This is not acceptable for whatever reasons how can a human being civilized one attack children who are playing along the beach using Tanks and Warplanes F16 or Women who are running from the barbaric attacks with their children killing them in the same barbaric methods. Israels should read there History long back when the whole Word criticized NAZIs for killing them in Barbaric methods now we don’t know whether this methods they apply to Palestinians will be forever tolerated till the Day of Judgement Yaumal DINI or Allah will just make decision like during Firaun’s with his barbaric methods of killing innocent human beings let us have Subra after all we shall go back to Alah Inna Lilahi wa Inna Ilayh Rajoon

  3. Avatar


    July 20, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    This article starts with “Peace loving nation Israel”
    This is BS terminology.Choose your words carefully.How come Israel is a peace loving nation when it kills thousands of children,women and civilians.
    Israel did thousands of war crimes.
    Israel is actually a WAR-loving nation ,
    its a biggest threat to peace in arab world.

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

    • Avatar


      July 21, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      I believe the article meant “peace loving nation Israel” as sarcasm.

    • Avatar


      July 21, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      The “peace-loving nation” of Israel…
      It’s in quotation marks for some reason.

    • Avatar


      July 21, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      You obviously never heard of a concept called sarcasm

    • Avatar


      July 26, 2014 at 7:12 PM

      It was a mockery! Like Saudi Arabia is a “ISLAMIC” country!

    • Avatar

      O H

      August 27, 2014 at 7:19 AM


      When words cannot express the amount of failure…

  4. Avatar


    July 20, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    One must not forget that role of the Saudis in this conflict.

  5. Pingback: 8 reason why | lilysland123

  6. Avatar


    July 20, 2014 at 7:08 PM


    But we, the free peoples of the Earth, do not need you Muslim-splaining in your patronizing way to us what this is about. It’s about racism, anti-semitism, Islamofascism, and the intolerance of Islam.

    NOTHING can forgive or explain targeting civilians for no other reason than an imagined “occupation” and a million other mythical butt-hurts. And don’t bring up the Israeli targeting; the Palestinians were warned and they could have sought shelter outside the areas affected (even better, Hamas could have used all the billions in Aid the Palestinians receive to build shelters, homes and businesses instead of tunnels.). And finally, the Palestinians elected Hamas with their racist, anti-semitic and fascist charter. Even the German people were held responsible for the Nazis, a group they didn’t even elect. Why should Muslims be so different? Are you the “special people”?

    End this now. Tell Hamas to accept the gracious cease-fire Israel and Egypt have offered.

    • Avatar

      Ashy Larry

      July 21, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      Sorry son, but just about everything in your post is false. Time to open your eyes and turn off Fox news.

      – Israel DOES target civilians, according to the U.N (facts…sigh) This is evident by the high percentage of civilian casualties.
      – I understand the whole “occupation” thing isn’t convenient for your narrative. But according to our very own US state department and the U.N it does exist. (i know, i know more facts…sigh..)
      – Mighty gracious of Israeli army to provide warnings for imminent bombs. But where exactly are the kids supposed to get shelter? You do realize Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on earth, right? There is nowhere to run.

      Seriously, open your eyes.

  7. Avatar


    July 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    The statement “Peace loving nation Israel” is meant for SARCASM. Reading the entire article should have made that very clear. However, if you were not able to pick up on the sarcasm then I assume some others were not able to either.

  8. Avatar


    July 21, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    God must have profound hatred for you Gaza folks as he allows you to live in suffering and makes you loose war after war while still fooling yourselves that victory is imminent. Allah makes you fast during the war so you can’t even fight the war!. So Muslims time to reconsider Jihad and other holy wars they are a prescription for Muslim death all over the world.

    And BTW while you are reconsidering that maybe just maybe you could join the 21’st century ??

  9. Avatar

    william aid

    July 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM download this app and support the campaign

  10. Avatar


    July 21, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    DId Israel kill anybody yet ? I didn’t see that yet did you ? did Hamas kill anyone ? I think it’s all made up.

  11. Avatar


    July 21, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    First of all, it was a very enjoyable and informative read, Waleed. Thank you for sharing. Nevertheless, I’d like to speak my mind. I certainly agree these reasons are more than enough for being at least angry and annoyed. Israel has no right to have caused all the suffering they’ve been giving many thousands of souls for the last 50 years — my question to you, so, is: are all the reasons in the world really reasons for answering back with violence? How does using violence make Palestinians any better than the Israelis?
    “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, because if you only love those who love you, what reward will you get?”

    With this being said, in no way do I support the Isreali dehumanization that is being and has been done. And surely will they be judged in this life or the next.
    Justice requires apprehending, punishing the guilty individuals — not going on a genocidal revenge against people of the same race. History aside. If you were a 10 year old in Gaza and your brother/mother/father were killed in your presence, how do you internalize all this violence? In a decade, these kids who saw their family die in front of them are going to turn around and do the same thing. By ‘defending’ themselves, Israel is just brewing the conditions for another future Hitler from the Islamic world. This conflict wont end with violence. Each time we see an escalation, it garantees a new generation to carry on the war and feed the cycle.

    My request here is, lets not fight for vengeance or hatred, but to build a peaceful coexistence.
    Sorry for the long text and many thanks again.

    • Avatar


      July 22, 2014 at 7:40 PM

      Fighting back is the right thing to do. Hamas and Palestinians have a legitimate right to defend themselves from Israeli attacks. If someone was blockading your town what would you do?

  12. Avatar


    July 21, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    It is a tragedy to see human lives taken on either side, I will pray for all involved.

  13. Avatar


    July 22, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Truly to Allah we all belong and to him is our return.

  14. Avatar


    July 26, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    These article should have been named “8 reasons Israel should have been faced a BORDER WAR in Gaza”! Rocket attacks are TERRORISM, not WAR! So is BOMBING!

  15. Avatar

    Anthony Lange

    July 27, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    1. “all consider Gaza a part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories because Israel exercises complete military control over it.” …… ABSOLUTE RUBBISH. How, if this were true did hamas manage to build such a rocket fortress

  16. Avatar

    Anthony Lange

    July 27, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    ” nothing goes in, nothing comes out” – Absolute RUBBISH. Israel allows electricity, food, medical supplies to freely pass into Gaza.

  17. Avatar

    Anthony Lange

    July 27, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    3. “The Water Crises” …… If Hamas cared about its people it could make a plan. Why should Israel supply Gaza with ANYTHING!

  18. Avatar

    Anthony Lange

    July 27, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    4. Scarcity of Fuel and Electricity……… DITTO ABOVE

  19. Avatar

    Anthony Lange

    July 27, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    5. Leveling of Land and Destruction of Property……………… supply proof

  20. Avatar

    Anthony Lange

    July 27, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    6. Travel Bans………….. “virtually impossible for Gazans to leave the occupied territory.” (well EVERYTHING could be “virtually”. The real truth is that gazans DO travel.

  21. Avatar

    Anthony Lange

    July 27, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    7. Suppression of Agriculture. WHAT RUBBISH IS THIS. What you are saying that because there is a “no go area” that you cannot farm? Id say that’s stretching it a bit, don’t you think? Honestly!

  22. Avatar

    Anthony Lange

    July 27, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    8. Restrictions on Fishing…………… all I can say is that if you cannot find fish in 6 kilometers…. I guess you will never find fish. Period! besides the rockets come in oversea and you cannot be trusted to just be “fishing”

  23. Avatar

    Aliza Salem

    July 28, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    I have one question? Is it true that if Hamas stops firing rockets Israel will stop? SO STOP FIRING ROCKETS!! If our own people dont care about our children how can we expect Israel to care?

    • Avatar

      O H

      August 27, 2014 at 7:54 AM

      There are numerous cases of Israelis initiating attacks on Palestinians even when rockets are not fired at them by Hamas.

      An example of this is when the Americans were celebrating the election victory of Obama during the end of 2008, Israel used this as an opportunity to enter the Gaza Strip and kill Palestinians, even though rockets weren’t fired then, Israel were the initiators in that case just like many other cases.

      It’s easy for us all, from the comfort of our homes, to blame Hamas but we don’t know the entire context & situation. This article definitely helps address this & it’s shocking to have anyone having any other view, more so if it’s a Muslim.

  24. Avatar


    August 1, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    Israel : we will drop bombs, so go away.
    Palestine : okay, we’re coming.
    Israel : actually, you cant go to israel.
    Palestine : but you control all of our borders, so where do we go?
    Israel: sounds like personal problems.
    Palestine : …

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Civil Rights

Podcast: The Unfinished Business of Martin Luther King | Imam Zaid Shakir

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Our Muslim community is one whose existence, contrary to popular misconception, is predicated on the establishment of peace.

I believe that we have been divinely prepared to take up the torch held aloft so courageously by Dr. King and dedicate ourselves to the completion of his work.Click To Tweet

– Imam Zaid Shakir

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Continue Reading

#Current Affairs

The New Scramble For Africa

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Africa is a blessed continent with resources and biodiversity that would impress anyone. Africa’s history in Islam (while neglected) played a major role, it was home to the first country to welcome the Muslims and allow them to practice freely. After the spread of Islam trough traders, regions across Africa became hubs for knowledge and trade. The richest man in history hailed from Africa and was Muslim, and his name was Mansa Musa. The riches of Africa have always sought after. People from all over the world have aimed to to do business or exploit the blessed continent. Unfortunately, the history of Africa is filled with strife, bloodshed, slavery, and holocausts. This rings true till today. The purpose of this article is not to dwell on the past, be it Arab influence or colonization. The events going on today needs out attention, we have ignored the struggles of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Africa long enough. 

The first major scramble for Africa was in the 19th century, when Europe carved it up like it was their property. The second was during the cold war, when East and West seek allegiances of newly independent African states. We are witnessing a third scramble that is less obvious, and more behind the scenes with “investments” and “wars”. It can be described as a cold war between China and America. 

African mines

Some see the resources they have like oil, chocolate, rare earth minerals, diamonds, etc. as a blessing (investors mostly), but to the people living through this every day it is a curse. Oil or mineral dependent countries in Africa suffer from enclave industrialization, limited diversity in their economy, and vulnerability to price shock. While this is happening, they see decay in their agriculture, manufacturing, and other trades. The continent is still traumatized by five centuries of exploitation. It is no easy obstacle to overcome. What we are seeing will only get worse as oil production is expected to peak in 2025, world scarcity will increase, and we will see more wars around oil. For the last decade, China has been using “soft power,” basically using money for leverage. This comes in the form of aid, trade, infrastructure projects, and loans. This is a plot to make them a superpower in the region. America, on the other hand, is doing what it has been doing since 1776, it is confronting Africa as a “battlefield,” basically running operations or anti-terrorism projects in dozens of countries that the American public is unaware of. 

One example is South Sudan, and the American campaign to split the Muslim country of Sudan to two. Before the split, China reportedly had invested $20 billion in Sudan. With American interventions occurring, China watched the events unfold. After the split the newly inaugurated president of South Sudan flew to China to secure an $8 billion investment. By 2013, China controlled 40% of their largest crude oil producers and was importing 77% of the country’s output. After unrest and bloodshed occurring in Libya, Mali, Sudan, etc, China has established a stronger effort with peacekeeping officers to protect their oil interest. As one superpower implements one tactic, another superpower follows its traditional method. Last year in Niger, American soldiers, including two commandos, were killed. This was surprising to me as I was unaware of American military operation in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world with Muslims making 98% of its population.

We have seen a dangerous rise of commandos in Africa. In 2006, under Bush, 1% of deployed commandos were in Africa, by 2011 under Obama it had risen to 3%. It does not stop there, before stepping down from office, in 2016, 16.5% of American commandos deployed were deployed in Africa.

In 2006, only 70 special ops were deployed across the continent, in 2014 we have 700 deployed special ops in Africa. “None of these special operations forces are intended to be engaged in direct combat operations,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Robert S. Karem. Despite this declaration, despite the deaths of soldiers in Niger, U.S. commandos keep finding themselves in situations that are indistinguishable from combat. 

In March of 2018, the New York Times released an article of 10 unreported attacks of American troops between 2015 and 2017. Despite these attacks and distrust towards the region, the Pentagon built a $100 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, regardless of the people’s concerns towards a base being built near their home. Our worldly desires is fueling this new scramble for Africa. Our need for resources, technology, and fuel comes at a cost. This cost manifests itself as the development of the rentier state (eventually developing into a kleptocracy across Africa, professional soldiers ruling the resource-rich lands or an expansion of the “war on terror”. 

Here are a few theoretical solutions, some are to be initiated by the government and some rely on people-power movements. The government needs to reduce corruption and that can be done through a menu of policies created to control and maintain corruption. Controlling corruption can be done through; changing the selections of national agents, modifying the rewards and punishments systems, and restructuring the relations between national agents and users to reduce monopolies. Another venue the government can explore is directly distributing resource revenues to the people. This is practiced in Alaska, and has been wildly successful. Finally, the government can invest the resource revenues in social development. Harnessing the revenues for human development to include education, healthcare, job training, and housing will lift up the urban and rural poor. 

The people can pressure the government to pursue any of those ideas mentioned. A power-people movement can look different depending on the need. One idea is that consumers in the West to boycott African minerals due to corruption and/or exploitation. This can develop into “smart boycotts” where we use internet hedge funds to attack corporations that exploit and feed into corruption. Developing campaigns like “blood diamonds” in the past have been proven effective to generate awareness and bring vital change. The same was done with the ivory, and now even China has laws making the product illegal.

People-power movements work and have helped locals rid of unwanted corporations in their region. Ken Saro-Wiwa, was a leader of the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta, he rallied against the abuses of the Nigerian military regime and the oil pollution created by multi-national companies, which resulted in a change of consciousness for the better. 

In his words: “Whether I live or die is immaterial. It is enough to know that there are people who commit time, money and energy to fight this one evil among so many others predominating worldwide. If they do not succeed today, they will succeed tomorrow.”

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#Current Affairs

CAA – NRC Row: Why There Is More To It Than An Attack On Secular Ethos

indian economy caa
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‘Indian Muslims have nothing to fear. No one knows what CAA/NRC is all about. They are simply protesting because they are misled’, thus proclaimed a former classmate of mine who himself left India for brighter prospects during PM Narendra Modi’s regime but continues to believe in his promise of ‘acche din’ (good days).

Today the whole of India is divided over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which is to be followed by the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Thousands of students from India’s premier institutions like Jamia Milia Islamia, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University, Delhi University, IITs and IIMs are thronging the streets to protest against the bigoted law.

The ripple effect has even reached top educational institutions across the world including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and MIT. From lawyers to celebrities to academicians, people across the world, belonging to different religions are raising their dissent against the law which is deemed to be against the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution.

What is this law all about?

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) provides an accelerated path to Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities from three countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is an official record of all those who are legal Indian citizens. So far, such a database has only been created for the northeastern state of Assam which has been struggling with the issue of illegal immigration for a long time. In Assam 1.9 million people were effectively rendered stateless after NRC and were put into detention centers. Out of these 1.9 million, around 0.6 million are Muslim.

On November 20, Home Minister Amit Shah declared during a parliamentary session that the register would be extended to the entire country.

Why the uproar?

At first glance the CAA seems to be a harmless law, which the government claims was made to help those who are facing religious persecution. However, the question arises why only those suffering religious persecution? Millions of people are suffering persecution in the name of race, region or language in India’s neighboring countries.

Even if we talk about just religious persecution, why does the law only accommodate those from three neighboring countries? Rohingyas are suffering brutal persecution in Myanmar. Christians are suffering in Sri Lanka. Tibetans have been persecuted because of their beliefs.

Many people opine that the CAA is not problematic in itself. It becomes problematic when it’s seen in conjunction with NRC. When NRC is implemented, millions of people will be declared illegal due to lack of documents in a country where the masses live in villages and documentation is a complicated bureaucratic process with a high error rate. According Professor Shruti Rajagopalan, the State Of Aadhaar Report 2017-18 by IDinsight, covering 2,947 households, found that 8.8% of Aadhaar holders reported errors in their name, age, address or other information in their Aadhaar letter (Aadhaar is the identity number issued to Indian residents). In the NRC, a spelling mistake can deprive one of citizenship and 8.8% affects over 120 million people.

They will be rendered stateless and sent to detention centers with inhumane conditions. Out of these ‘illegals’, everyone but Muslims can seek accelerated citizenship under CAA.

The fact is that even if we view CAA alone, the very act of offering citizenship on the basis of religion goes against the fundamentals of secularism and equality as mentioned in the Indian constitution.

UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet has termed the CAA as “fundamentally discriminatory”.

In this context, it’s also relevant to understand the revolt that is happening in the north eastern state of Assam. While the rest of India is against CAA and NRC for exclusion of Muslims, the people of Assam are protesting against the inclusion of 1.3 million undocumented Non-Muslims, as identified in the NCR. According to them, if these foreigners are granted citizenship under CAA, they pose a threat to the language and culture of Assam.

Police brutality against protesters

Student fraternity across the world was shocked when students of Jamia Milia Islamia who were peacefully protesting against the CAA were brutally attacked by police forces. Police accused students of destroying public property and fired tear gas shells, beat them up mercilessly and even open fired at them. They barged into the library, mosque and even the women’s hostels without authorization.

Video footage shot by students and reviewed by Reuters show students, including women, hiding beneath desks in the library, cowering in restrooms, jumping over broken furniture in an attempt to flee. It was later verified that none of the students had anything to do with some of the buses that were set ablaze outside the campus.

Reports of even more horrific police brutality surfaced from Aligarh Muslim University. A student’s hand had to be amputated after a tear gas shell hit him and exploded. Hundreds of students were severely injured.

Section 144 of the Criminal Code which prohibits any gathering of 5 or more people has been imposed across the entire state of UP. Internet has been shut down in several parts.

Videos showing police destroying properties of innocent Muslims in UP have surfaced which the ‘Godi media’, a term coined for PM Modi’s lapdog media, refuses to acknowledge. Innocent youth are being dragged out of their homes and their properties are being seized on the accusation of destruction of public property. Death toll has crossed 22. Thousands are in custody.

It’s not surprising that Narendra Modi is being compared to Adolf Hitler.

India’s secular ethos

Religion based politics is nothing new in India, the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue and Gujarat riots being two of the most glaring examples.

However, in day to day life ‘Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, Aapas mein sab bhai bhai’ (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians are all brothers) has not just been a slogan but a way of life.

Muslims in India have held prominent positions in every sphere of life, be it arts, literature, sports or leadership and have been admired by Hindus and Muslims alike.

The current BJP government aims to change all of that with its RSS-inspired fascist ideology of Hindutva – Hindu nationalism andHindu rashtra’ (nation).

India’s faltering economy and dejected youth

One of the heartening aspects of the CAA/NRC uprising is that it is not being seen as just a Muslim struggle. It is rightly being seen as a struggle to uphold the secular ethos of the Constitution of India. However, there is more to this struggle which is being led by the youth of the country.

Underlying the CAA-NRC struggles is the country’s deep disappointment with PM Modi’s lofty promises of ‘acche din’ (good days) which gave the country a new hope . Among other things he promised to make India an economic superpower. Today the nation’s economy is in doldrums which has led to frustration and dejection in the youth.

IMF’s last forecast for India was 6.1% growth in 2019. This has slumped to 4.9%. Unemployment is at a 45-year high and industrial growth rate is negative.

One of the major reasons for the economic slowdown has been the government’s radical decision of demonetization in 2016 which sent the entire country in a turmoil and failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. Small businesses took a further hit with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

At a time when the government’s primary concern should have been the faltering economy, the government diverted the country’s attention to the Babri Masjid -Ram Janmabhoomi issue. As soon as that ended it announced the CAA and NRC, continuing its propaganda of Hindu nationalism as opposed to real issues faced by the nation.

At this critical junction the economy can be expected to take a further hit by the cost of the implementation of the CAA and NRC exercise.By conservative estimates, nationwide NRC will cost Indians a whopping 500 billion rupees in admin expenses alone. Add to it the massive cost of building and maintaining detention centers across the country and the nation looks set for an economic and logistical nightmare.

Today the educated youth of the country is voicing its frustration at the price the country has been paying due to the government’s fascist ideologies. They no longer want the world to know India for its age old mandir-masjid disputes, mob lynchings, communal riots, human rights violations, poverty or illiteracy.

The current uprising is not just against one particular law.The people, especially the youth of India are protesting for their rights to work together as one nation to take the country towards being an exemplary democracy and an economic superpower.

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