Yamin Zakaria

Yamin Zakaria

I have decided to become a voice for the Far Right temporarily to get a glimpse of their pain and suffering. Some of my colleagues have advised me that I will need to wear dirty clothes, scruffy jeans is a must. The body should have some tattoos, and my conversation should be littered with abusive expletives to gain the full experience. Others have advised the traditional approach of shaving the head, growing a big beer belly, have some Union Jack tattoos, then go topless holding a can of beer and hurl abuse at foreigners or in this case the new enemy, the ‘Muzlims’. I understand there is much pessimism in the air, but as they say, the best way to grasp the situation is to be in their shoes, well, as much as you can fit in.

After reading some of their concerns online, I will do my best to air them below. At times I have had to figure out their actual position. For example, they express their intense hatred for all Muzlims and Islam. It does not matter if they are radical or moderate and the dark skinned ones are the ones most despised. Some of their soldiers regularly resort to verbal and physical abuse of Muzlim women on the streets, yet they are all concerned about their ‘suffering’ under Islamic law and customs. In essence, they want to save the Muzlim women from Islam, and if they don’t take up that option they will be subjected to their wrath on the streets and online; there is nothing like a free society where you can choose your option as long as it’s the right one!  So let us start to address some of the issues.


I had some beautiful dreams in the auspicious month of Ramadan. It began with my visions of Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins having sausages and beans at their anniversary meal celebrating a successful year of Islamophobia. Then they heard the announcement on the BBC News, their children and some close family members embraced Islam at the Abu Hamza Mosque in Finsbury Park. They stopped breathing and started choking severely, this was compounded by Tommy realising that the sausages from Tesco were A’lal (Halal). He used to eat them regularly before he got radicalised. Eventually, both of them ended up in the local hospital, where the dark skinned Muslim doctors from Africa with Asian nurses gathered around to save the couple, this frightened them even more, as the years of Islamophobic-radicalisation took its toll on that day. They passed away the following day.

Some of the new converts became devout and enrolled at the local Islamic School to qualify as an Imam. Can you imagine the sons of Tommy and Kate as an Imam in the Mosque? Others started to raise funds to build a new Grand Mosque next to St Paul’s Cathedral. The two buildings with a dome would perfectly complement each other.

 

“Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups.”    

The abovementioned definition succinctly expresses the view of the British government on radicalisation. Although the definition is generic, the application of the idea is not, just consider the following examples.  Our minds are filled with narratives from the ubiquitous media with cases like Salman Abedi, the infamous Manchester-bomber, as examples of radicalised individuals. However, do we also view the murderer (Thomas Mair) of the British MP, Jo Cox, or the gruesome killer (Pavlo Lapshyn) of the 82-year-old man in Birmingham, Mohammed Saleem, in the same light? I have yet to see the media purporting that those individuals were radicalised by the toxic message of the far right. To give further credence to my viewpoint, I sampled some newspaper reports covering those two events and did a search for the word radicalised; it did not appear once, compared that with Salman Abedi, the very word appears in the headlines. Similarly, there is much discussion about the radicalised 7/7 bombers, but I have seen no references made to the likes of Anders Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, and Dylan Ruff as radicalised individuals.  

For those unfamiliar with the pejorative term of Muzzy it refers to Muslims, along with other familiar names such as Sand Niggers, Towel Heads, and Camel Humpers, they are all ‘made in the USA’ I think. I often hear it from that quarter. As for the word Kebab, it is a metaphor describing the dominant ethnicity of the Muslims. They hate Muzzies, in recent times that have extended to attacking their halal food after consuming it for years because they have concerns for animal welfare now. Note their protests did not include the Kosher meat, and we all know why. Similarly, we all remember the racist kids taunting in school that you smell of curry, only to see their parents turning up regularly to the Indian restaurant in the evening to order a takeaway.  

I am pleased that Muslims have not responded in kind by coining similar scornful terms. We could easily substitute Camel Humpers with Dog Humpers (bestiality), and ironically that is a reality for some section of the population. One can easily find the distasteful websites and videos online with a single click, and rest assure the vast majority involved are non-Muzzy, and all the sites hosted in the Western hemisphere. Such sites would not exist if there were not a demand for them.

When Barrack Obama was elected as the US President setting a milestone in US political history, the dominant view considered it progress. One step in the right direction, a significant sign that the US was on the path to making amends with its ugly past, the terrible treatment of the blacks. For many, the event echoed the words of Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”.  That journey seems to have halted and taken a U-turn with the appointment of Donald Trump.

Why has the US regressed from electing the first black leader to appointing a racist semi-literate Xenophobe like Donald Trump?  Is it a political enigma or a knee-jerk response from an insecure White America who are on course to become a demographic minority? It appears that the crude rhetorics of Trump appealed to a good section of the American population, in particular, the far right, going even further right the White Supremacist movements like the KKK gave Trump an open endorsement. Other far-right groups around the world have also given support to Trump.

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 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.

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


 

According to a recent article in the Foreign Affairs Journal, peace may be imminent in Afghanistan. All the major parties involved, the Afghan government, Pakistan, China, the US and the Taliban are converging towards a settlement, bringing an end to the Taliban insurgency that has gone on for over a decade. This new climate for peace exists for the following reasons.

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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.

Yamin Zakaria

London, UK

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