Middle East

Wednesday, 02 July 2008 20:00 Sheharyar Shaikh Editorial Dept - Middle East
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The Queen of England, Her Majesty Elizabeth II, who was once likened by Salman Rushdie to a “smoked fish full of spikes and bones”, decided to honor Rushdie with knighthood for his “invaluable services towards literature”. The incident raises the questions of merit, timing and the Queen’s better judgment as well as that of a befitting Muslim reaction to an untoward provocation.

Going through blogs and emails, I found that many British consider Rushdie a heroic symbol of the West’s commitment to freedom of speech against the deadly forces of Islamic fanaticism. While some feel that the author received the award for his symbolic importance rather than the literary quality of his work, others ask: “How has Rushdie contributed to the lives of ordinary Brits, who have dished out millions of pounds for his protection, to now be referred to as “Sir” Salman?”

On the issue of freedom of speech, Muslims and many fair-minded people, British or not, note a double standard at play here. The freedom of speech is a cherished notion of the Western societies, and it should be, but it must be tempered in due measure with a sense of responsibility. It is not an absolute right. Imagine had Rushdie produced a novel depicting a fictitious people called The Slime as the curse of the world, warmongers, killers of Jesus and had celebrated Hitler as a hero-savior for eliminating them in large numbers, would the justifications had been:

 

 
Monday, 16 June 2008 20:00 Shaheen Buneri Editorial Dept - Middle East
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Peshawar: Growing tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan may further boost the Taliban insurgency on both sides of the border and strengthen ties between the militants, regional analysts warn.

Pakistan has strongly protested a weekend threat by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to strike back at Pakistan-based terrorists who launch attacks against coalition forces and Afghans inside Afghanistan. Islamabad vowed that it would "defend its territorial sovereignty."

Pakistan Taliban spokesman Moulvi Omar told reporters in Peshawar by telephone that Karzai was frustrated because of Taliban successes in Afghanistan. "We will continue to send fighters to Afghanistan to support our brothers in faith in their resistance against the United States," he said.

Omar is spokesman for an umbrella organization of Pakistani Taliban militants called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), formed this year under the command of Baitullah Mehsud, based in Pakistan's tribal belt.

In his weekend comments, Karzai waned Mehsud by name, saying we will go after him now and hit him in his house.

 

 
Sunday, 01 June 2008 20:00 Julie Stahl Editorial Dept - Middle East
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The growing threat posed by Hezbollah and other terror organizations was among the topics addressed Thursday at a nine-nation security conference held in Jerusalem.

Ahead of the gathering, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that Hezbollah makes al Qaeda look like "a minor league team." He told Fox News that Hezbollah has been described as tops among terror groups -- "in terms of capabilities, in terms of range of weapons they have, in terms of internal discipline."

 
Israeli analysts agree. They say Hezbollah's recent military and political victories in Lebanon are eroding democracy in that country and setting an example for other radical Islamic groups in the region.

 
Thursday, 29 May 2008 20:00 Julie Stahl Editorial Dept - Middle East
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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should "disconnect himself from the day-to-day running of the government" as he deals with his personal legal problems, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday.

And if Olmert doesn't step aside, Barak indicated that his Labor Party "will act to set an agreed-upon date for early elections." The remark was widely interpreted as a hint that if Olmert doesn't step aside, the Labor Party, which Barak heads, will quit the government, forcing early elections. Labor is Olmert's largest coaltion partner in the government.)


Barack said that the Olmert's Kadima Party needed to do some "soul searching." He said he was not setting a time limit but that it had to happen "soon."

Barak spoke a day after an American businessman told an Israeli court that he had given Olmert tens of thousands of dollars in cash over the years.

 

 
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 20:00 Sheharyar Shaikh Editorial Dept - Middle East
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Muslim or not, the family institution in our society is in peril. Yet the pathetically ignorant, self-styled “Martin Luthers” of Islam find no other preoccupation worthier than to use fringe issues to take stabs on Islam at a time when attacks come from all sides – and for what? A paltry 2-minute-publicity?

The latest example is that of a hijab-clad Muslimah, Noor Javed, who felt it a duty to write a scathing article on polygamy practiced in the GTA in a recent Toronto Star article entitled: “GTA’s Secret World of Polygamy”.

Javed’s article, spun around a single case, starts off with the story of a Safa Rigby who discovers that her husband had taken two other women as wives during her 1-year stay in Egypt. Angry and upset, Safa felt she needed to opt out of marriage. And she does. No one says that Safa had no right to be upset, most women would be, but what bothered me was that Noor Javed used this one particular case to indict something she knows fully well to be permitted in Islam. Moreover, Javed repeatedly and erroneously cites the “illegality” of an Islamic polygamy in Canada in her article.

Perhaps she forgets that a second additional marriage that is undeclared and unregistered with the city does not bear any legal recognition. Hence, it can not be “illegal” as no enforced law is broken. It would be similar to a person having one legal wife and 10 girlfriends on the side with whom his relationship can not be called illegal. One wonders whether Noor Javed would write a similar article in condemnation of adultery, which victimizes Muslim families on a much grander scale and which thrives as an acceptable institution in society.

 

 
Saturday, 24 May 2008 20:00 Roni Ben Efrat Editorial Dept - Middle East
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Karl Marx"What's happening today is Marx's revenge. Marx taught us that ideologies often serve as a superstructure camouflaging the real issues. Today there is no more camouflage. Mammon stands before us nakedly proclaiming: 'I am thy God, O Israel!'"

This is not a citation from a leftist visionary, but rather from Israeli attorney Yaakov Weinroth, interviewed by Gidi Weitz in Haaretz on May 9, 2008. Weinroth, an orthodox Jew and self-proclaimed Zionist, is famous for defending powerful figures accused of corruption. Is Zionism too, we wonder, an ideology camouflaging other interests? The evidence is now in the affirmative.

Zionists claim that Israel arose in order to provide the Jewish people with a national home. But decade by decade, it has become ever clearer that Israel is not a state of, by and for the Jewish people. It is rather a state of, by and for a sprinkling of families, 19 in all, whose income amounts to $70 billion—88% of the national budget.
 

 

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