Just as the Russians learnt recently that for their participation in the Syrian conflict led to reprisal by the downing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai desert, the French discovered the same through the recent attack in Paris. President Hollande declared it as an act of war by IS (Islamic State), thus, waving the placard of victimhood. However, like Russia, France had already declared war and one of the attackers made this point to the French hostages. "It's the fault of Hollande, it's the fault of your president; he should not have intervened in Syria". When you bomb a country or aiding another country to do the same, you are committing an act of war and expect retribution. A former Supreme Court Judge of India echoed the same on Twitter reacting to the Paris attack “You bomb the Middle East to hell and expect no retaliation?”.
France along with many other western countries may scream terrorism through their corporate media, but when you terrorise (‘foreign policy’) other nations, then be prepared to be terrorised too. The less regulated social media tells a different story from the corporate media. Many pointed out that selective outcry is an attempt to project a molar stance that in fact, conceals something that is profoundly immoral - because it reflects that they value some lives more than others. One tweet poignantly stated we are France today, but we are never, Iraq, Syria or Palestine, who are facing similar attacks on a daily basis.
The mainstream media loves to fight for the rights of Muslim women. While numerous girls and women in the secular world rally round the Twitter and Instagram hashtag of #Freethenipple, the poor, oppressed Muslim women are backwards enough to be covering their bodies in public. These backward views must, of course, be caused by the fact that the Muslim world is so hell-bent against allowing girls and women to have an education, so we are told. A horrific but isolated incident has been doing the rounds as of late, of three Afghan girls who were physically attacked on their way to school. This makes me worry about the safety of our girls, but of course, the mainstream media has taken this incident and angled it to suggest that Afghanistan, being full of Islamic fundamentalists, does not allow girls to be educated. This is utterly untrue, and in my latest article for the Afghan Online Press, I examine the reality of the situation, while looking at the mainstream agenda to tell the Western world that Muslim girls are not being allowed an education - Yamin Zakaria
The Charleston shooting that hit the headlines a short while ago put the spotlight on the White supremicist terrorist, Dylann Roof, that except 'extremism', 'terror' and 'radicalisation' were not words used to describe the biggotted and hateful individual, for whom we were then expected to show sympathy. On the other hand, whenever anyone of a non-White, and especially Muslim background is reported as carrying out such atrocities, a different picture is painted by the mass media. Their portrayal of the recent shooting in Tunisia painfully highlights their hypocrisy in handling such incidents. Here is my analysis of where the mass media, and the governments who point the finger away from themselves when talking about radicalisation, have got it wrong. - Yamin Zakaria
Two gunmen in two different parts of world carried out near-identical attacks on defenceless civilians with machine guns. Both were cowardly acts, massacring people who were caught by surprise. Neither in a church, nor on a beach would you expect that kind of attack. Can we draw any other parallels between the two incidents? Both also have an underlying political motive, and that is where the similarities stop.
In the US incident, the motive has been clarified by Dylann Roof’sadmission and the materials found in his home. It was racial hatred towards non-Whites; the perceived threat from the African-American community was acutely felt by this White, European American. He needs reminding that only the Native Americans are true Americans. They do not need extra adjectives to remind them of their origin. What the mainstream media omitted, the online media picked upon - the label of ‘terrorism’, because the violent act was politically motivated. Keeping in line with reports of similar incidents from non-White communities, it should have been described as ‘White American Terrorism’. Instead the perpetrator was presented as a lone individual committing a crime in isolation. Had Dylann been Mohammed, it would certainly have been described as Islamic terrorism, instantly hitting the headlines of all major news outlets, even before the facts had been identified, just like in the aftermath of the Oklahoma bombing.
In the case of the Tunisian gunman, there is an absence of evidence, so one can only speculate. Since he turned on the British and European holiday-makers, his motive was most likely related to the Anglo-US invasions, and the suffering and chaos that it has brought about. Yet, Tunisia was the birth place of the Arab Spring, where democracy was supposedly being nurtured with free elections.
Taking it as fact that he must have been an Islamist terrorist, the mainstream media asked who radicalised this hip-hop-dancing Tunisian man. This was despite the lack of a long beard; and the absence of any literature his home that could indicate his political or religious inclination.
The Post-mortem results show that he had consumed cocaine; certainly he is no Jihadi-Salafi from the current self-proclaimed Islamic State. The investigation continues to find ‘evidence’ of radicalisation and even the most tenuous connection is enough to make the case that those Islamist militants in neighbouring Libya had somehow brainwashed him. In other words, the verdict has been declared, and the related evidence WILL be found.
The real truth behind self-radicalisation is that it comes from within, and the causes lie outside the domain of the individual. When he sees the images on Television, the process of radicalisation begins. It has little to do with the apolitical sermons of the Imams in the Mosques. Even if we blame the sermons or the lectures of radical preachers, they are just conveying those images on television through their words.
The British government should stop pretending that, somehow, they are innocent victims, who have made no contribution towards this horrendous massacre on the beach in Tunisia. Yes, the holiday makers were innocent, just like the children in Gaza, who are killed every day by weapons made in the UK and the US, and the 500,000 children in Iraq, killed through the criminal sanctions. Likewise, we must remember the innocent children killed by drones in Pakistan; and there are numerous other examples. If you want security for your civilians then do not violate the security of other civilians, otherwise you will experience a backlash, and when you strike out in response, further retaliation will follow. You have created a cycle of violence.
There is no major governmental concern, or any mobilisation of armed forces against potential, future threats emanating from the far right White supremacists. This is because, we are told, they are a small minority that poses no risk to the dominant White American society, and the same applies to their cousins in Europe. But surely their narrative must be challenged? The media has not failed to report that since Dylann Roof’s apparently isolated act of racially motivated terror, a number of Black churches has been burnt down, and yet these actions, somehow, do not get linked with terror or radicalisation.
In contrast, a British military response to the incident in Tunisia looks imminent, which will no doubt insight more frustrated individuals. As strange as it seems, the Western governments continue to be afraid of increasing radicalisation amongst the Muslim youth, while the fact remains that only when they, as the world’s most powerful military entities, can choose to break this cycle of violence, leading to the demise of any associated self-radicalisation.
Published on 03/7/2015
My latest book, which explores conflict and the possibility for peace in the Islamic World as well as globally is on course, and as I write the final section on what it will take to achieve world peace, I find evidence of its manifestation, in the conflict zone of Afghanistan. I believe that we are still a very long way off from peace being fully established but minds are changing and action is slowly being taken in this area, meaning that things have started to change. In my latest article for the Afghan Online Press, I make a short analysis of how, this Ramadan, the International climate is changing, and previously conflicting powers are slowly unifying, setting the stage for peace in this war-torn nation - Yamin Zakaria
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Before I elaborate my viewpoint on this matter, I ask the following questions: under the current climate, will my viewpoint be considered as a legitimate expression of free speech or evidence of radicalisation? Will I get a knock on the door from the Liberal Inquisition brigade? Indeed, critical analysis of the government’s domestic and foreign policy should be at heart of free speech, a pillar of democracy; it is a way of holding the government accountable, and thus serves a legitimate purpose. This is far removed from those advocating hate speech disguised as free-speech, by drawing needless, offensive cartoons that convey insults, fulfilling the crude urges of rightwing xenophobic bigots.
After eight years, Tony Blair’s time as Middle East Envoy, representing the Quartet (the US, Russia, the UN and the EU), has finally come to an end. Robert Fisk asks, in the Independent Newspaper, how a war criminal ever became a ‘peace envoy’ in the first place. His appointment to this role was an insult to many. Perhaps Blair thought this would serve as adequate redemption for his sins during his war criminal years, and he certainly has blood on his hands.
With all the domestic political activity going on in the UK, we must not forget the situation of Palestine. It has been a while since the humanitarian flotillas went over there with basic provisions for the Palestinians during an inordinately severe Israeli attack (we must remember they are attacked every day). The aid workers were attacked, and some were killed by Israeli armed forces, and not too long ago, the case came up in front of the International Criminal Court. As usual, they got away with their horrific crimes. Here is my commentary on the subject- Yamin Zakaria
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was founded in 2002 by the Rome Statute. Its purpose is to "bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide". If the national courts are unable to deal with such matters then the role of the ICC becomes imperative, even more so if the incident is an international one involving multiple nations.
It may appear that the ICC confines itself to examining events retrospectively, bringing culprits to justice for past crimes, but its judgments also serve to deter others from transgressing in the future. In fact the collective aim of all international organisations, including the ICC, is to prevent the escalation of conflicts between nations, thus preventing war or any other incident that causes large-scale bloodshed and loss of life, which may include war crimes.
This is why the ICC also has a duty to look at smaller events with a lower casualty rate that may not be classed as war crimes, but that have the potential to escalate into full scale wars and atrocities. Yet, the ICC acted contrary to this spirit with its decision, made in November 2014, not take any further action over the Israeli raid of the Mavi Marmara aid convoy on 31 May, 2010, which resulted in the deaths of nine unarmed civilians. The reason given for this decision by Ms Fatou Bensouda of the ICC is that the incident did not rise to the level of severity of a war crime, which would have involved a much larger number of deaths. Yet she also stated that there was "reasonable basis" to believe that war crimes had been committed.
In short, she was suggesting that although a war crime may have happened, it was not quite severe enough to be investigated by the ICC. Her statement implies that in order for the ICC to mete out justice, a particular level of severity has to be reached. The nine deaths are not enough, and therefore, a minimum, albeit unspecified, number of killings would need to take place. Surely, any war crime is to be condemned and punished by the ICC regardless of the number of deaths that have occurred?
The fact is that Israel attacked an aid convoy, and not a military ship posing a threat over international waters. In doing so, it violated International Law and murdered nine civilians. If the incident did not warrant a full ICC investigation because it was seen as a lesser crime, then some alternative measure should have been taken, to provide justice to the victims’ families and help minimise the possibility of the conflict escalating.
Failure to nip international violence and injustice in the bud may trigger a future war. Many commentators argue that some of the decisions made by the League of Nations after the First World War contributed to the Second World War. indeed, seemingly small incidents can lead to bigger events, igniting full-scale conflicts. Human history records many of these incidents. It was the killing of one man in Sarajevo, Archduke Franz Ferdinand that triggered the First World War 100 years ago, resulting in the deaths of millions. When the Caliph in Baghdad killed the ambassador of Genghis Khan, it led to a swift reprisal on a massive scale. When the Israeli ambassador was shot in the head, it triggered the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 that killed thousands of innocent civilians. The point being made is that international incidents of this nature involving killing, must be investigated thoroughly, especially when they occurs in a volatile area where the possibility of conflict is always looming.
The ICC’s decision not to investigate the Mavi Marmara raid sends the wrong signal to this unstable region, especially because Israeli aggression already goes unchecked there. Israel is the only nation in this part of the world that constantly flouts International Law and ignores countless UN resolutions. It needs restraining. Its disproportionate response over Gaza is one of many clear examples of heinous crimes that it has committed against a largely civilian population. Far from having a preventative effect, the ICC’s decision to let Israel off the hook, and will only embolden the nation to commit further aggression in the future.
We see Western powers intervening militarily on a regular basis to assist humanitarian causes. The Mavi Marmara aid convoy was also supporting a humanitarian cause, but was doing so peacefully without the backing of armed forces. The convoy, containing people from all parts of the world, was delivering much needed aid to desperate people who are in what a British minister described as ”the largest open air concentration camp”. If a similar incident had occurred involving the Iranian armed forces raiding an aid convoy, then there would most certainly have been an outcry, with calls for a full investigation. But, because Israel is an ally, the media interest isn’t there to highlight and scrutinise its actions.
This was also an opportunity to demonstrate that international organisations do not exist primarily to serve the wishes of powerful nations. Had the ICC taken reasonable measures over the Mavi Marmara, it would have helped to dispel that view. Instead, the ICC gave its tacit approval for Israel to continue operating like pirates on international waters with impunity, and as demonstrated throughout history, this oversight of an apparently lesser crime, may have the unfortunate consequence of triggering a far more serious situation, leading to the unnecessary loss of countless innocent lives.
Free speech: the recent Charlie Hebdo incident showed it as an excuse for murder, and while in that case there was clear insightment to violence, others round the world are punished for the very same reason and we, the public, are much less frenzied over the issue. My latest article for the Afghan Online Press commemorates Farkhunda, whose tragic and horrific story many of you may have heard. In this case, she was murdered, martyred perhaps, not for insighting violence, but for challenging an individual over his ignorant practices that contradicted his own religion. So let us take a moment to commemorate this devout, scholarly and brave young woman whose murder truly is a gross injustice. - Yamin Zakaria
Countless women visit the well-known Shah-Du-Shamshaira Mosque and shrine in Kabul seeking the so-called ‘Guardians of the Shrine’, men selling charms and amulets promising help with various issues of life such as childlessness, ill health and finding a suitable husband. This practice goes against the teachings of Islam, because it is based on superstition; but it is so deeply embedded in the Afghan culture that no one thinks of questioning it. Perhaps nobody dares, because within human societies around the world there is an intrinsic, historical fear of challenging the status quo.
As well as running the Radical Views website (which, as you see, is a work in progress) and writing books of my own (the latest of which is soon to be published), I regularly write articles for other outlets such as the Afghan Online Press. Here is my latest article regarding the opium problem in a country that is best known for its strict Islamic values - Yamin Zakaria
That a devout, Islamic nation like Afghanistan, with almost no presence of non-Muslims is a world leader in the production and export of opium and heroin is a huge paradox. It is comparable to, say, a situation where Saudi Arabia produced and exported Alcohol. Although alcohol is not classed as illegal within international law, it is like class-A drugs, forbidden in Islam, so you can imagine the shock.
Here we are, on the last day of International Women's Month, and while women of all nations, religions and backgrounds have been celebrated, women's rights in Islam continue to be questioned. This, along with other forms of inequality will always come under scrutiny until our greater social paradigm changes to promotes the respect and equal treatment of all human citizens as well as other living beings. (We haven't hit upon animal rights as of yet in Radical Views but those on our team who like their cosmetic products certainly believe in taking the corporations to task over this.) This is by no means the final article that will be posted on women's rights, particularly as this is such a challenging topic in our current age. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has used International Women's month to repeat her usual, illogical and one-sided stance on the veil and I really feel that an alternative viewpoint is required. My words may not fit The Guardian's agenda, but I am free to express them here as well as in the books that I hope to publish in the somewhat near future. According to Emma Watson, this makes me quite the feminist, while Yasmin Alibhai-Brown would surely disagree. Either way, I set up Radical Views with an educational slant, to get you to think outside of the box designed by mainstream publications. I hope you that appreciate my response to Ms Alibhai-Brown, and if you do then please Like, Tweet and share my article - Yamin Zakaria.
Does the veil1 really pose a danger to our society? It intrigues me as to why a mere garment stirs up so much debate in some circles. I have never witnessed threatening and rowdy behaviour from the intoxicant-free Muslim women wearing the veil in the street. They tend to be placid, usually minding their own business. In contrast, when I see a group of young women dressed in leather, with spiked hair, body pierced with metal objects and some parts covered in tattoos, behaving without inhibition, perhaps under the influence of intoxicants somewhat concerning. While I believe that they, like any other citizen, should be free to dress as they choose, I recognise that many of us find the dress codes of skinheads, punks and heavy metal gangs intimidating, because they have a historical reputation for disorderliness. Although nowadays they are mostly quite civilised and dress like this only for effect, the behaviour of these groups during the decades of severe racial violence means that their outward appearance has these direct and sometimes memorable associations. Due to recent media representation of the age-old veil on the other hand, women who wear it are often targeted with violence because of their dress.
A version of the Muslim veil is also worn by Christian Nuns, some orthodox Jews and others around the world, but it seems the danger only lurks from the veils of Muslim women according to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s recent article Muslim Women, Take off your Veils that was published in the Guardian newspaper. Why the need to comment on this topic? More to the point, why are newspapers giving up valuable space to promote such materials? One would have thought feminists like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown would be focused on serious issues like security, health, and education for women, rather than what they choose to wear.
Fair enough, free speech reigns here, which means that she is entitled to voice her opinion, and I wonder in the spirit of free speech, if the Guardian newspaper would be brave enough to publish a similar article from a veiled Muslim woman, asking Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to embrace Islam and wear the veil.
Her argument is clear but incomplete, because she fails to answer the obvious question that follows. What should replace the veil? Some will idiotically cite that the removal of the veil means freedom of choice. However, it is by the same freedom that these Muslim women chose to wear the veil in the liberal West, where Sharia Law is not enforced. Thus, the liberal argument comes down to this: wear anything you like, except the veil. So women, feel free to dress up like a man, or in a short and sexy skirt, or cover your body with metal objects and tattoos identifying with urban tribes. Anything but this lethal item - the veil.
I am sure if Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was told that she should really cover up, she would not hesitate to cite that her freedom was at stake and that we should not impose our views upon her. Similarly she should learn to respect the freedom of these Muslim women in the West, who have chosen to cover up, instead of being a hypocrite and imposing her views on them.
Then she goes on to state the absurd point that the veil sexualises the woman, because she is forced to conceal her hair and body. Any rational thinker would ask whether the same argument then applied to any part of the body being covered. Then is she advocating nudity? If not, where does she draw the line? Moreover, it’s perplexing to see how covering up in a veil equates to sexualisation, while revealing or accentuating body parts does not. Indeed, numerous feminists have opposed the scantily dress worn by models, pop stars and movie stars using the argument that women are being over-sexualised.
This sort of article underlines the same mindset of trying to save the oppressive Muslim women but the mission seems to have no bearing on the actual Muslim women themselves. What this short-sighted pundit fails to recognise is that despite the pervasive anti-Islamic propaganda, plenty of non-Muslim and Muslim women have embraced the veil. The choice to wear the veil does not generate fear. Nor does it over-sexualise. Rather it brings out irrational indignation from closet Islamophobes, racists, and ignorant pundits, and it is they, not those who exert, and respect, freedom of choice, who should come under scrutiny.
 The veil for Muslim women can be classed into three categories; the most common is the Hijab and Jilbab, which exposes the face and the hands. Then comes the Niqab, which covers everything except the eyes and the last category is the Burka which covers the woman completely. The vast majority of the Scholars do not accept the Niqab and the Burka as mandatory.
The 8th of March 2015 saw actors, politicians and the public join together in the celebration of International Women’s day. This grand, worldwide event was supposed to follow hot on the heels of the International Women of Courage Awards, scheduled to be presented by American First Lady Michele Obama on the 5th of March. While the event was cancelled this year due to inclement weather, Michele Obama did not fail to send a statement acknowledging the women who had been nominated due to a display of exceptional leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great risk to themselves.
Naturally, a number of nominees who were directly linked with women’s rights in their own countries won the accolade. Ms. May Sabe Phyu, Director of the Gender Equality Network of Burma and Ms. Nadia Sharmeen of Bangladesh who, as well as being a journalist, is a women’s rights activist, for instance, were two of this year’s winners. However, it was Afghanistan’s winner, Niloofar Rhmani, who captured the world’s attention. While Saudi Arabia, which recently employed a second female commercial pilot continues to ban women from driving cars, 21-year-old Rhmani put the former nation to shame by becoming Afghanistan’s first female fighter pilot.