Author: M. Shahid Alam

The Mozlems Are Coming

Fear grips the country from coast to coast. Politicos, anchors and talk-show hosts   chatter all day, The Mozlems are coming; they’ve dropped their drivel about fighting   them there. While our troops fought in Iraq holding the ‘terrorists’ at the gates, back   home, greater troubles were brewing. Radical Mozlems were actively scheming   to impose an Islamo-fascist theocracy on the United States. Our great democracy   confronts an existential threat from within. Let us act fast – good Republicans raise a din –   Moslems inside the US are working openly to force sharia-law upon us. Act quickly,   harangue the pundits – or lose this great country to heathens. Now’s not the time for an energy   plan, overhaul Medicare, fix the infrastructure, or trim the deficit. We face greater dangers   from the enemy within: The Mozlems are coming. It’s women in burqa, no gambling, no drinking,   nor driving for women. Americans get cracking ‘cause your country is calling. The Mozlems are...

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US, Al-Qaida and the Arab Revolt

On December 24 2004, I wrote an essay, “America and Islam: Seeking Parallels,” for which I received much heat from Zionist and right-wing bloggers in the United States. The article made the point that the leaders of al-Qaida believe that they have to carry their war to the home ground of the ‘far enemy’ – the United States, Israel and Western powers – in order to free the Muslim world from foreign domination. This anyone can verify from the numerous communiqués of al-Qaida. To say this is not to endorse the terrorist methods that al-Qaida employs. This was my moral position then: and it is my moral position now. At the same time, we should not shrink from recognizing that the total wars waged by many states, including the United States, since WWII differ from the methods of al-Qaida only in the infinitely greater scale of the destruction they wreak upon civilians. The article made another critical point. It argued that al-Qaida, in some measure, reflects the political and moral failings of Muslim societies. If Muslims had shown more spine in resisting local tyrannies through non-violent means, their courage would have scotched the violent extremism of groups like al-Qaida. This is how I argued this point in my 2004 article: Above all, the question that the hijackers of 9-11 pose to their Islamic compatriots is this: “What have you...

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Pakistan: A Deficit of Dignity

Pakistan’s rulers and ruling elites may well be thinking that the wave of people’s indignation that started in Tunisia and is now working its way through Egypt, Jordan and Yemen will never reach them. Perhaps, they are telling each other, ‘We are safe: we are a democracy.’ The Arabs who are pouring into the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen are not protesting only against their dictatorships. Simultaneously, they are also protesting against governments that have sold their dignity and bartered the honor of their country. Nearly, all the Arab rulers are self-castrated eunuchs in the courts of foreign powers, who have turned their own countries into police states, and who jail, maim, torture and kill their own people to please their masters. The Arabs are venting their anger against elites who have stymied their energies by turning their societies into prisons. In complicity with foreign powers, these elites have ruled by fear, blocking the forward movement of their people because this movement collides with the imperialist ambitions of Israel and the United States. It is true that Pakistan has had ‘elected’ governments alternating with military dictatorships. Increasingly, however, these governments, whether civilian or military, have differed little from each other. The priority for both is to keep their power and US-doled perks by doing the bidding of the United States and Israel. Starting in the early 1990s,...

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People Power in the Middle East

From his weekly perch at CNN, Fareed Zakaria speculated last Sunday (or the Sunday before) whether George Bush could take credit for the events that were unfolding in Tunisia, whether this was the late fruit of the neoconservative project to bring ‘democracy’ to the Middle East. It is quite extraordinary watching Zakaria – a Muslim born and raised in India, and scion of a leading political family – mimic with such facility the language of America’s ruling classes, and show scarce a trace of empathy for the world’s oppressed, despite his propinquity to them by reason of history and geography. He does have a bias for India, but here too he only shows a concern for India’s strategic interests, not the interests of its subjugated classes, minorities and ethnicities. This I offer only as an aside about how easy it is for members of the upper classes in countries like India, Pakistan, or Egypt to slip into an American skin whenever that dissimulation offers greater personal advantages. As a cover for deepening US control over the Middle East – here is the latest civilizing mission for you – the neoconservatives in the Bush administration argued that the Islamic world produces ‘terrorists’ because it lives under autocracies. To solve the ‘terrorist’ problem, therefore, the US would have to bring democracy to the Middle East. This demagoguery only reveals the bankruptcy...

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A Political Murder in Pakistan or War?

Pakistan’s English print media – faux liberal and elitist – have been in furor over the recent political murder of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, by his own bodyguard. Ostensibly, the governor was assassinated for his obstreperous stand against the judgment of a lower court to hang Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, for blasphemy against the blessed Prophet. One columnist in the Express Tribune, with high melodrama, proclaimed that the governor’s murder was the ‘death of reason’ in Pakistan. What reason and whose reason, Pakistanis might well ask, since Pakistan’s faux liberal elites have been strangulating the raison d’être of Pakistan’s creation for some sixty-four years. More likely, the Tribune columnist feared the death of a different kind of reason: Pakistan’s wealthy and faux liberal elites, by carrying their treachery to extremes, by agreeing to rain death on Pakistanis from the skies, are losing the argument in Pakistan. Going off on a limb, the governor began attacking Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which has been abused by some Pakistanis to settle personal scores. Is it a fault in the law or its execution? Or is the cause a generally lawless society, where abuses of law starting at the highest levels of society are rampant; and Pakistan’s Christians are not their only unfortunate victims. Nevertheless, the governor erratically took up the cause of Aasia Bibi, and began railing against the blasphemy law,...

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Unvarnished Truths About US and Israel: From the pages of Time, Jan 7 1952

Was there ever a time when a leading organ of the US media could speak the unvarnished truth about the links between the United States and Israel? Consider this quote from Time magazine of January 1952, embedded in an article that explained its choice of Mohammed Mossadegh as its Person of the Year for 1951. It had no compliments for Mossadegh, the man who was spearheading his country’s bid to take back its oil resources from the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. No surprise there. Surprising, however, is Time’s candor on Israel. It minces no words. US support for the creation of Israel had alienated the Middle East: it had been a costly error, motivated not by national interest but petty considerations of presidential politics. Truman had supported the creation of Israel in order to court American Jewish votes. This was the plain truth: a US President had placed his electoral chances ahead of a vital national interest. Apparently, in those days, Time could write the plain truth without worrying about the tide of flak from the American Jewish community. Here is the quote, with italics added for emphasis: The word “American” no longer has a good sound in that part of the world [the Middle East]. To catch the Jewish vote in the U.S., President Truman in 1946 demanded that the British admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine, in...

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