Yamin Zakaria

Yamin Zakaria

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.

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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.

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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

“I hate getting punishments so I’m gonna make sure I change. Amma (mummy) loves me but she does not LIKE me!” were the last words written by eight-year-old Ayesha Ali on a piece of paper found after she had been battered to death in her own home, by her mother, Polly Chowdhury and Polly’s lesbian lover Kiki Muddar.As though it was not shocking enough that Polly Chowdhury, described by her former husband as a ‘perfect mother’, had systematically abused her own daughter to the point of death, simply on the demands of her new lover, Muddar’s own motives, or lack thereof, which led her to participate in the abuse, are also highly perplexing.

This is not the typical crime where motives such as money, greed, jealousy, lust, revenge are at play. The 8-year-old posed no threat to anyone, and the recording of Kiki Muddar’s hate-filled rant against Ayesha is inexplicable. Such cases where the motive of the perpetrator is difficult for us to comprehend often get classed as acts of insanity, where the person in question needs psychiatric help. Some would say that this is an example where the causes are supernatural. It is the epitome of evil and only humans are capable of doing this, despite being the most highly evolved species. Thus, such examples are not seen in the animal kingdom. Rather, we see the protective mother becoming ferocious when she senses danger posed to her offspring.

Of course, this has nothing to do with either of the women’s anthropological backgrounds. While Kiki’s religious beliefs, whatever they may be, drew no attention whatsoever, the usual tabloid paper headlines mentioning the ‘Muslim’ killer lesbian or the monstrously abusive ‘Muslim’ mother do not detract from the fact that instances of child abuse take place in all communities and are not the reserve of any religion, race or gender. Why not simply regard Polly and Kiki like any other British criminal? Taking this cheap shot at Islam by selectively referring to Polly’s Muslim heritage conforms to the current fad of Islamophobia, it makes a case for good business, and papers like the Daily Mail are keen to get lots of UKIP like readers. And besides, does the fact that Polly was a Muslim make her worse than Kiki, who was not, but who appeared to be the actively manipulative one?

This having been said, nobody will dispute the guilty verdict passed on the two culprits, and commentaries made by members of the public on various news sites, comprise disgust at the fact that the two women got off lightly with manslaughter, instead of murder. They even go so far as to demand tougher punishment for these crimes than ‘mere’ imprisonment, with demands for public hanging and executions. But isn’t that what they do in ‘Muslim countries’ like Saudi Arabia? It is an axiom that when serious crimes are not punished adequately, this implicitly endorses the crime, and reflects how society values such matters, and the sort of punishment that these two women have received sends out an implicit message of encouragement to other child abusers.

Many also make the pertinent query as to why the father was absent. He should have been there to protect his child. It is said that he initially moved home with his wife and child when he heard of Kiki Muddar’s ‘interferences’ but that the crazed and evil Kiki, who had multiple alter egos, followed the family to their new home and ‘evicted’ him.After this fact, one would hope that, while his wife was lost to him, that he would still be in regular contact with his daughter. It is not permissible in Islam for a father to be denied access to his own children, and many would say, this is commonsense and does not require a religious edict or a fatwa. Yet, this gross concoction of impermissibility which created Ayesha’s suffering continued on, sadly facilitated by the courts of law, which lie apathetic and indifferent to situations where mothers deny fathers access to their children, removing a layer of protection.

Instead of doing what is best for the child, i.e. to legally enforce shared parenting by default in cases where the mother and father are apart, the situation is such that fathers must fight a hard battle within an expensive court system in order to gain even minimal access. To gain adequate access to children via the court system takes time, and mothers with residency rights (or custody) are empowered to make this very difficult.

Many feel that we live in a culture where fathers are simply discarded. They are like an optional add-on for the children, and, very often, are given limited access, sometime through contact centres, as if they pose some threat to the child, despite providing it with half of its DNA. Strangely, this exclusion is frequently justified as being “in the interest of the child”. Even more obscene is the fact that many loving fathers are forced to pay for maintenance of their children, and yet they cannot see them. Such is the situation in the 21st Century, where these fathers are treated like the African slaves who had their children snatched away with only the most selfish of intentions.

The problems of not providing shared parenting by law are far-reaching, as witnessed in the situation of little Ayesha. Separation alone is traumatic, particularly when the child does not understand why one parent is absent. More significantly, in cases where one parent is abusive, the child can seek shelter with the other, and that parent will probably notice the signs of abuse and can contact the Social Services and police as a means of further protecting the child. If Ayesha’s father had had regular contact with her, instead of being purposefully eliminated from the lives of his ex-wife and her new lover, then she may well have still been alive and the abuse discovered and dealt with at a much earlier date. He was distraught at her death, which shows that he clearly loved and cared for his daughter a good deal, but sadly, by law, it was near impossible for him to see her when she most needed it.

It is high time we should stop assuming that mothers are always the victims and that they need protection. They are heavily empowered to make fathers’ lives hell, and to remove them entirely from the lives of their own children. Having such a position, they can also cause harm to their children without being detected. The research [1] shows that both genders commit infanticide almost in equal proportion and in some countries the mothers’ brutality exceed that of fathers. This should not replicate itself within the UK due to a skewed or lazy British justice system. We consider ourselves a civilised nation and should take it for granted that the law adequately protects our children, but as long as shared parenting cannot be taken for granted, this will not be the case.

Yamin Zakaria (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Published on 10/3/2015
London, UK

[1] http://www.dewar4research.org/docs/chom.pdf
Reflecting on the chaos in Syria and Iraq, and the subsequent rise of ISIS, many observers would have predicted its birth in Afghanistan, when the Al-Qaeda-Taliban alliance ruled the country. They were ousted by the US-led campaign post 9/11, and Mr Hamid Karzai came to power, through a pseudo ‘election’, whilst the country was occupied by US-led forces. His political legitimacy as the choice of the Afghan people had no credibility. Although, a lack of political legitimacy can be tolerated to some extent, because only the political rivals and elites will grumble, but people will not remain silent in the face of rampant economic corruption and nepotism, which affects everyone, especially those in poverty.
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The Great Game refers to the strategic rivalry and conflict that was going on between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia, including Afghanistan, during the 19th century. From the British perspective, if Russia managed to capture Afghanistan then it would pose a serious threat to invading India, the Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire. Thus, Afghanistan was viewed as a buffer state for much of this period between these two rival powers.

Eventually, both the British and Russian Empires collapsed. Following the invasion by Communist Russia in 1979, the US-led occupation of Afghanistan took place as a response to the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11. Now, after 12 years, the US-led forces have almost completed their withdrawal of troops and China seems to be moving in as a new player.

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The attack on the Peshawar school will no doubt lead the Pakistani government to take further measures against the Taliban movement (TTP, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) that are largely based in the North-Western Federally Administered Tribal Areas, along the Afghan border in Pakistan. In the past six months, while attempting to handle the military offensive in North Waziristan, the Pakistani army hasn’t yielded much success in terms of eliminating or capturing any prominent members of the movement. To date, most of their successes have come from the military operations inside Afghanistan led by the US forces. For example, Hakimullah Mehsud the leader of the TTP was killed in a US drone strike last year and Latif Mehsud, who was second in command, was captured by US forces

With the recent bombing, the Pakistani regime has far greater support to take further measures, and so, the question is, will Pakistan go further this time and deny the Pakistani Taliban support based in Afghanistan? The current leader of the TTP is alleged to have taken refuge there. This is because weapons, fighters and money are easily moved across the seemingly porous border. The Afghan regime also has the same interest in denying the Afghan Taliban a support base inside Pakistan despite the fact that many of the Afghan Taliban leaders have sought refuge there for years. Is there a convergence of interest between the two governments to deal the final blow to the Taliban movement as a whole?

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As a former member of the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb-ut-Tahrir, HT), I can really sympathise with my former colleagues and other groups in their struggle to build a genuine Islamic State that would be a source of security, justice and prosperity for all. In the past, the Islamic State was exactly that, a system built on the actual teachings of Islam, where people fled to seeking sanctuary. During the Medieval Inquisition in Europe, the Jews fled to the Islamic State seeking protection. They were offered that and they prospered for centuries. The Muslim Spain is another example of where the society flourished at all levels with Jews, Muslims and Christians living side by side.

I can hardly believe my eyes, as the events have unfolded this year in various parts of the Muslims world. It seems the notion of the Islamic State (The Khilafah or the Caliphate) has been completely hijacked by wild extremists acting in the name of Islam, and their actions are far removed from the action of Prophet Mohammed (SAW), and the actions of the early companions and the generation of Muslims rulers that followed.

Afghanistan continues to be examined through the ubiquitous eye of the international media concerning the subject of women’s rights and historically, the American-led war on Al-Qaeda was conveniently switched, to a war to liberate the oppressed Muslim women of Afghanistan, when Al-Qaeda was dismantled. As part of the subject of women’s rights, which is more or less equated with - saving the oppressed Muslim women, various debates on issues like the wearing of the Burqa or Hijab (modest clothing), education for girls and arranged marriages continue to take place. With the recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot by the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, because she was demanding education for girls, the plight of Muslim women has once again become the centre of media attention.

However, the bulk of these concerns, expressed by the Western press, is underpinned by political motives; hence the inconsistent media coverage provided on this issue. While Malala is given prime media coverage and adulation, Muslim women around the world continue to suffer on an extreme scale. However, this is barely mentioned. Take for example Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is still incarcerated in America, or the women facing the wrath of the Israeli forces in Gaza, or those suffering in Syria and Iraq. Many people rightly ask: why Malala did not speak out on such issues using her newfound authority, instead of confining her discussion to the single topic of education for girls in Afghanistan. Is this not evidence of her being manipulated as a political tool?

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When Iraq invaded Kuwait, immediate economic sanctions were applied followed by military action; when Russia invaded Ukraine, economic sanctions followed; Israel invades Gaza, breaks humanitarian laws, ignores human rights and the Geneva convention, and continues to defy international law by building settlements in the West Bank, of which 60% is under military occupation, and no action is taken against sacred Israel. In fact, it’s still poor Israel, the victim, ‘defending’ the borders by attacking: hospitals, schools, water plants, sewage works and even small children playing on the beaches are not spared.

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