Friday, June 29, 2007

Aga Khan Foundation Scores

Aga Khan Foundation, one of the best run organizations

I am pleased to share the following article about HH Aga Khan's AKF Foundation

AKF is one of the most organized and, for matters of bringing about some cohesiveness to faith-based influence, is the Aga Khan Foundation. Among other things, the AKF is developing a partnership with the federal government, to turn the former war museum, located almost within eyesight of my press gallery perch in the Parliament Buildings, into a centre for the advancement and understanding of religious pluralism.

Mike Ghouse

OttawaWatch: An event to ponder

By Lloyd Mackey

Having been involved in writing about The Hill for almost ten years, I have become aware of the many Christian groups that cluster around the political institutions here, all with the objective of providing some kind of influence on the body politic.

Increasingly, several people close to the Hill scene have been wondering if there might be a way of bringing representatives of these groups together for a day or two, to get to know each other better. In addition, some are wondering about providing, within such an event, a cohesive opportunity to present a common front to public servants, Christian leaders in the city, politicians and diplomats.

One day, while contemplating this possibility, I jotted down the names of about three dozen groups that I encounter in and around Parliament Hill. This list is not comprehensive, by any means, and is purposely presented in no particular order, to illustrate the stream-of-consciousness way by which it came together.

Here it is, as I composed it, several months ago, while letting compassionate professionals help God to make my heart work better:

Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Mennonite Central Committee
Salvation Army
Laurentian Leadership Centre (Trinity Western University)
Citizens for Public Justice
Work Research Foundation
National Prayer Breakfast
Christian Embassy (Campus Crusade for Christ)
Institute for Family and Marriage Canada (Focus on the Family)
Habitat for Humanity
Inter-Church Committee for Corrections and Justice
Prison Fellowship Canada
National House of Prayer
Vote Marriage Canada
Enshrine Marriage Canada
Defend Marriage Canada
Campaign Life Canada
Centre for Cultural Renewal
Institute for Canadian Values
Nation at Prayer
World Vision Canada
Watchmen for the Nations
Ottawa Christian Leadership Centre
Mission Ottawa/Outaouais
One Way Ministries
Canadian National Christian Foundation
Christian Business Ministries Canada
Tyndale University College and Seminary
Augustine College
Redeemer University College
Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship
Public Service Christian Fellowship
Military Christian Fellowship
Christian Info Canada
ChristianWeek Ontario
All of these groups, in one way or another, project those parts of the Christian faith that can roughly be described as evangelical, charismatic, socially conservative and/or reformed.

In addition, my mind wandered toward the naming of several groups which might have some points in common with some of the above groups, but spring from some other part of the Christian spectrum. I will name them, without expressing any view as to what particular stripe of Christianity they might represent, leaving it to OttawaWatch readers to make their own assumptions.

Those particular groups are:

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Canadian Council of Churches
Initiatives for Change (formerly Moral Rearmament)
Metropolitan Community Churches
Community of Christ (formerly Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints)
Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints
Again, in addition, one could point to the hundreds of Protestant and Catholic churches located in the Ottawa/Outaouais area, working in English, French and about 30 other languages.
Each of those other groupings, as well as the increasing number of organizations and movements coming from other non-Christian faith backgrounds, have their own equivalent spinoffs providing a range of unique faith/political interfaces.

For example, one of the most organized and, for matters of bringing about some cohesiveness to faith-based influence, is the Aga Khan Foundation. Among other things, the AKF is developing a partnership with the federal government, to turn the former war museum, located almost within eyesight of my press gallery perch in the Parliament Buildings, into a centre for the advancement and understanding of religious pluralism.

(It would actually be within direct eyesight, if it was not blocked by the sleek glassy facade of the National Gallery, parked beside the intersection of the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River.)

* * *

At this point, I am not sure what will happen with respect to bringing together an event that will facilitate the goals of a forum and showcase for the three dozen or so groups. I know there is a resonance among a fair number of Christian leaders to see such a thing develop.

My hope would be that something like this could be two-tiered: an actual event, held close to The Hill, and some communication vehicle that could plug Christian leaders across the country into what is happening here -- and vice versa.

From time to time, over the next couple of months, I will try to report progress or otherwise on this event idea. And I would appreciate feedback from readers who might have some ideas on how to make this a reality.

* * *

Lloyd Mackey is a member of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa and author of Stephen Harper: The Case for Collaborative Governance (ECW Press, 2006). He can be reached at


Bahai F aith


Sun, July 01 - 4:00 PM :: Dallas Foundation for Pluralism Group

Sun, July 01 - 6:00 PM :: Understanding Bahai Faith - Download Press Release

Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, TX 75001

Judaism on July 22nd.
Kindly RSVP to

We have a monumental task to repair the World, and we will do our part in working towards a World of co-existence, one person at a time. We are committed, and now help us God. Amen.

Our Mission is driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware."


Our Mission is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. We cannot have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it.

Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator.

Mike M Ghouse
(214) 325-1916
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, TX 75234

No compulsion in Islam

No compulsion in religion, Qur’aan 2:256
Mike Ghouse, June 29, 2007
Letter format

Dear Iftekhar, You have said it very well “Muslims have a nearly clean slate to resolve what "no compulsion" means in the 21st century."

I welcome all the repudiations and support equally, the more arguments we see, the more we understand it. It will certainly give the opportunity to clear misunderstandings about Islam. We should let it be debated openly and freely, after all it is the word of God, as we believe, and would withstand all the challenges. The majority of people really do not want to know the details of their own faith, they simply believe in it and move on with life and this works for them just fine. However a few of us (those on the discussion groups particularly) find satisfaction after the doubts are removed and questions are answered.

Thanks God we live in open societies today, these discussions were the monopolies of a few Scholars at one time, indeed it was the case in all religions. Since we are individually responsible for our actions here on the Earth, as well as here after, we have to understand the truth ourselves so we can take appropriate actions. No wonder, God continuously helps us learn the truth - when Prophet said in his last sermon something to this effect "I am leaving this book (Qur’aan) to you for you to understand it " and that there is no one assigned to interpret it for you, you have to employ your intellect for creating a better society. How nice of God to have communicated that liberating message through the prophet (pbuh). Qur’aan 13:55 “Then which of the favors of your Lord will ye deny?”

There are many verses that may sound terrible on the face of it, but when you look at the overall theme of Justice in Qur'aan where you have to testify the truth even if it goes against you and your kith and kin. You have to take the responsibility for your action and face the consequences squarely. Such is the emphasis in Qur'aan for truth and justice for the Aa'lameen (Universe).

Justice, truth, equilibrium and balance of individual and society are the core teachings of any religion, including Islam, and hence, "no compulsion in religion" is God's natural guidance based on the idea that you cannot force anyone to believe against his/her will.

Islam is an expression of freedom, justice and the truth, however, much of the Muslim society is not, as is the case with all religions when excesses and forcible conversions have taken place by the transgressors. The issue is not with Islam, but how the societies that followed it have interpreted it for their own needs, we have to understand it ourselves as Prophet (pbuh) has conveyed to us, finding the truth is our own responsibility, as Munkir –Nakeer, our record keepers will open the books of our individual actions.

Insha Allah one of these days we Muslims will wake up and work for creating a better world of co-existence for the people and nature around us. Each one of us has to do our share on an individual as well as on collective basis.

Jazak Allah Khair

Mike Ghouse
In a message dated 6/28/2007 10:21:04 A.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

This research by non-Muslims is worth reading on, "There shall be no compulsion in religion."

This is worth reading what "There is no compulsion in religion" mean to different people. Send by non-Muslim who has studied the Qur’aan - I must admit I never knew there could be this many meaning.

What do Muslims believe regarding freedom of religious choice? A Qur’aanic verse (2:256) answers: "There is no compulsion in religion"(in Arabic: la ikrah fi'd-din). That sounds clear-cut and the Islamic Center of Southern California insists it is, arguing that it shows how Islam anticipated the principles in the U.S. Constitution. The center sees the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof") as based on concepts in the Qur’aan's no-compulsion verse. In a similar spirit, a former chief justice of Pakistan, S.A. Rahman, argues that the Qur’aanic phrase contains "a charter of freedom of conscience unparalleled in the religious annals of mankind." To a Western sensibility, this interpretation makes intuitive sense. Thus does Alan Reynolds, an economist at the CATO Institute, write in the Washington Times that the verse signifies the Qur’aan "counsels religious tolerance."

Were it only so simple.

In fact, this deceptively simple phrase historically has had a myriad of meanings. Here are some of them, mostly pre-modern, deriving from two outstanding recent books, Patricia Crone's God's Rule: Government and Islam (Columbia University Press) and Yohanan Friedman's Tolerance and Coercion in Islam (Cambridge University Press), augmented by my own research. Proceeding from least liberal to most liberal, the no-compulsion phrase is considered variously to have been:

Abrogated: The passage was overridden by subsequent Qur’aanic verses (such as 9:73: "O Prophet! Struggle against the unbelievers and hypocrites and be harsh with them").

Purely symbolic: The phrase is a description, not an imperative. Islam's truth is so obvious that to coerce someone to become a Muslim does not amount to "compulsion"; or else being made to embrace Islam after defeat in war is not viewed as "compulsion."

Spiritual, not practical: Governments may indeed compel external obedience, though they of course cannot compel how Muslims think.

Limited in time and place: It applied uniquely to Jews in Medina in the seventh century.

Limited to non-Muslims who live under and accept Muslim rule: Some jurists say it applies only to "Peoples of the Book" (Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians); others say it applies to all infidels.

Exclude some non-Muslims: Apostates, women, children, prisoners of war, and others can indeed be compelled. (This is the standard interpretation that has applied in most times and places).

Limited to all non-Muslims: Muslims must abide by the tenets of Islam and may not apostatize.

Limited to Muslims: Muslims may shift from one interpretation of their faith to another (such as from Sunni to Shia), but may not leave Islam.

Applied to all persons: Reaching the true faith must be achieved through trial and testing, and compulsion undercuts this process.
Massive disagreement over a short phrase is typical, for believers argue over the contents of all sacred books, not just the Qur’aan. The debate over the no-compulsion verse has several important implications.

First, it shows that Islam - like all religions - is whatever believers make of it. The choices for Muslims range from Taliban-style repression to Balkan-style liberality.

There are few limits; and there is no "right" or "wrong" interpretation.
Muslims have a nearly clean slate to resolve what "no compulsion" means in the 21st century. (Shafi we have to re-define this in the light of its true meaning)

Conversely, non-specialists should be very cautious about asserting the meaning of the Qur’aan, which is fluid and subjective. When Alan Reynolds wrote that the no-compulsion verse means the Qur’aan "counsels religious tolerance," he intended well but in fact misled his readers.

Further, many other areas of Islam have parallels to this debate. Muslims can decide afresh what jihad signifies, what rights women have, what role government should play, what forms of interest on money should be banned, plus much else. How they resolve these great issues affects the whole world

Iftekhar Hai
UMA Interfaith Alliance

From: Rashid Samnakay > Date: Thu Jun 28, 2007 10:44 pm Subject: Re: MuslimAgenda: Re: No Compulsion in Religion - Challenged in Interpretation

Dear all- Salaams
The way I understand the meaning of this verse (not being an Arab) is the emphases on ikrah and adDeen. ‘Compulsion’ gives the connotation of use of force, physical or mental pressure. Neither of these is to be used by an individual or the State.

This makes sense when at various places the invitation in Qur’aan is to use ‘intellect’, ‘brain’, ‘contemplation’ etc and further that “argue with them in ways that are beautiful and gracious (Ahsan)”-16-125 etc, The Deen, God’s practice, that is fixed and unchanging laws of nature 33-62 etc. when taken in conjunction with many other statements defining a ‘believer’ make it amply clear that the process is ARGUMENTATIVE and not COERCIVE or even dogmatic that is, based on ‘religion’.

A believer, man or woman has only to have faith in this and live a life based on righteous ACTIONS (Amilus-saalihaat) beneficial to humanity 4-124 etc.

Not even Qur’aan is to be accepted like a deaf and dumb 25-73. So where is the compulsion?--let alone the requirement to stone any body!!

Hence Islam is only an Arabic word to describe the above. To me Arabic is not holy!

Mike: Rashid, well said, and thanks for referencing Qur'aan on the subject. Insha Allah, I will include the comments on the website/ Blog. Only God is divine in Islam, all else is venerable and respectable, but none is worshippable.
From: Shamim SiddiqiDate: Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:16 pm Subject: Re: MuslimAgenda: Re: No Compulsion in Religion - Challenged in Interpretation...

In a message dated 6/28/2007 8:34:33 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes: “for creating a better world of co-existence for the people and nature around us. Each one of us has to do our share on an individual as well as on collective basis.” ASA The concept of "coexistence" is very confusing. It means both or all are either right or wrong but can co-exist together. Can Haq and Batil coexist? or both are correct then who will establish Haq over Batil and how? Please reconsider the theme and give it some other name. Shamim
Mike: Shamim, I welcome your comments as it lends to deeper exploration and subsequent understanding. The concept of co-existence expresses that God has created the entire universe in the form of matter and life. The matter is in perfect harmony, the stars, the planets and the whole nature is running on its trajectory and co-existing without colliding. Qur’aan: 55: 3-9 “He has created man”, “He has taught him speech (and Intelligence) “, “The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed”, “And the herbs and the trees-both (alike) bow in adoration” , “And the Firmament has He raised high and He has set up the balance (of Justice)” , In order that ye may not transgress (due) balance” and “So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance”

However the human life is not put on a trajectory, God added a brain and the heart for man to make his own trajectory and achieve that balance. Manuals are given through different religions and Allah has created it all deliberately for us to follow or simply make our own way to create that harmony, where all life co-exists without colliding and forcing upon each others as the matter is set up.

You and I have the responsibility to work towards that, which is the truth that is Haq, that it is one source. God has created all the pieces. We need to put them together, without eliminating any and that is co-existence.


Thanks for forwarding this.

I have read Friedman's book and in many respect, he is right because Muslims themselves have contributed to the confusion.

However, what really matter is what Br. Iftekhar Hai thinks about this issue and the meaning of the particular verse. If we want to deal with the confusion, we have to begin with ourselves.

Fi amanillah.
Dr. Mohammad Omar FarooqUpper Iowa University

Mike: Dr. Farooq, thanks for your comments, we are all going to work on this.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Muslims Must Affirm freedom

Ref: Article in Al-Jazeera listed below

Muslims affirm freedom of faith.
June 27, 2007

Mike Mohamed Ghouse –
Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq -
Websites: and

Muslims must affirm the freedom of faithUnder the revised law passed by Kelantan state, Malaysia, anyone found guilty faces a maximum penalty of six lashes with a rattan cane, five years in prison and a fine of almost $3,000. This law is not in synch with the freedom of faith in Islam.

Qur'aan: al-Baqarah 002:256 "Let there be no compulsion in religion.”Qur'aan: al-Kafirun 109:006 "To you your religion, and to me my religion"We believe that, God is the master of the Day of Judgment, he alone we worship and he is the only one who can judge us on that appointed day.

Qur'aan: al-Fatihah 001:004 "Master of the Day of Judgment" and
001:005 "You alone we worship; You alone we ask for help.

"Freedom of faith means not only freedom to choose a faith, but also freedom to change one's faith. While Islam regards apostasy a grave sin, but that is between God and the respective individual. When it is a matter of simple apostasy, i.e, merely changing one's faith without any aggression or treason against an Islamic State or Muslims, the principle of freedom of faith in Islam requires that such apostate must be allowed to exercise their God-given freedom.

An encouraging thing is that the tide of opinion among Muslims is turning away from the traditional view (The traditional position based on unwarrantedly mixing the matter of simple apostasy with treason or aggression) to one that is in consonance with the message of the Qur'an and the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad.Now, there is dedicated blog regarding the issue of apostasy and Islam, which presents a more contemporary position of Muslim scholars, academics and even Imams affirming the freedom of faith and the freedom to change one's faith, when it involves simple apostasy, not apostasy-cum-treason.
Please visit

There is no worldly punishment or consequence specified in the Qur'an regarding simple apostasy. Indeed, the affirmation of freedom of faith in the Qur'an is explicit. There is also no precedence during the time of the Prophet that anyone was punished solely for apostasy.While there might be questions or issues about the traditional view, Muslims are to seek guidance and uphold the teachings of the Qur'an and the legacy of the Prophet.

While we as Muslims invite our sister-in-humanity Lina Joy [Azlina Jailani] back to Islam, we unequivocally urge Malaysian government, court and the people to affirm the freedom of faith in Islam and not to stand in the way of her exercising her God-given freedom.For more information about the issue of apostasy and Islam,

please visit Also, Muslims (especially, scholars, intellectuals, academics, imams, professionals) are urged read a Statement presented at the blog and be counted among the signatories affirming the freedom of faith in Islam.

Mike Ghouse
Tougher law for Malaysia converts

Kelantan is the only state in Malaysia ruled by the opposition PAS party [Reuters]
The only opposition-ruled state in Malaysia has approved stiffer penalties to deter people from trying to convert Muslims to other faiths.

Under the revised law passed by Kelantan state, anyone found guilty faces a maximum penalty of six lashes with a rattan cane, five years in prison and a fine of almost $3,000.
Kelantan is the only Malaysian state led by the opposition Islamist party, PAS.

Hassan Mohamood, who heads Kelantan's Islamic affairs committee, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the stiffer laws are useful "as a form of deterrence".
The previous maximum penalty was two years in prison and a fine of RM5,000 ($1,400).

Proselytising of Muslims is forbidden under federal laws, but the recent case of Line Joy, a Malay-Muslim woman who sought legal recognition of her right to pick her religion of choice, raised fears among some in Malaysia over mass conversion.

Attempts to convert Muslims to other faiths are rare, and people found guilty face prison terms in most states in the country where nearly 60 per cent of its 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims.

Religious conflicts

The amended penalties in Kelantan, where PAS has been in control since 1990, are believed to be the heaviest nationwide.

In Malaysia, Islam comes under state-level jurisdiction and religious authorities often send Malay Muslims who try to convert out for counselling and rehabilitation.

Some have also been imprisoned for apostasy.

In the Lina Joy case, the woman who was born to Muslim parents failed to get the country's highest civil court to recognise her right to choose her own faith.

The Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of worship for all citizens but the country's parallel Islamic legal system often gives rise to religious conflicts.

Malaysia has large ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities that mostly practice Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Muslims V Muslims

Muslims V Muslims
Mike Ghouse, June 10, 2007

We must continuously remind ourselves that there are only a few organizations out there serving the Muslim community, indeed there is a paucity of them and it is our duty to support them. If we cannot support them, at least we should not pull any one down in the public. In the long run all of us will lose if we don't guard ourselves.

CAIR is usually the target, I have asked innumerable people and journalist to show me the proof for all the bad things they talk about CAIR, I am yet to see one. This has happened on open forums and some of the neo-con Websites as well.

A few days ago, I read similar disdainful write ups extending to ISNA and ICNA as well. Tomorrow, it would be you and I. If we give credibility to any one of these accusations without any proof, there will be no one left. This is the relentless strategy of the extremists of other kind; the neocons. They have succeeded in the Shia-Sunni divide in Iraq, in putting Iran against Saudi, and there is much more to come. The sad part is we are buying these instruments of mass deception. The Saudi's have let their clerics issue fatwas against Shia's and a very few have voiced against that. We at WMC (World Muslim Congress) have done our part in condemning such a Fatwa. If we do not wake up, the neocons will slice us in everywhich way.

Mistakes are made by all organizations, the bigger you are the more mistakes you are likely to make. Making mistakes is part of doing things as you will not make any mistake, if you don't do anything or if you are dead.

As Muslims we have to remember consistently when we say takbir, we are simply and clearly acknowledging that we are humble in the presence of almighty. Reciting Allahu Akbar ought to bring humility and not arrogance.

As far as CAIR representing Muslims in America, they do, so does ISNA and other organizations. One has to understand the system, no president or representative of the people was ever elected by 100% of the population. Only 30-40% of (searching for the accurate numbers) America votes, and that is shared by two parties, the libertarians and a few independents. My friends, that is representation in a democracy and we have to live with it.

Some of our organization chiefs get arrogant and consider the smaller ones as insignificant and meaningless, they need to be reminded privately that when we stand in prayers shoulder to shoulder, every one is on par. The pettiness on part of some of those organization has got to go. We have to support each Muslim organization for their contributions for creating a better society for one and all.

The big organizations like CAIR, ISNA and ICNA ought to consider reaching out and embracing all the organizations, no one should spend their energies in dismantling the other but building others.

May Allah guide us on the right path to be good to ourselves and good to all of Allah's creation.
Please feel free to forward this link:

Mike Ghouse
World Muslim Congress

CAIR membership plummets

Membership in the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has declined more than 90 percent since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Audrey Hudson will report in Tuesday's editions of The Washington Times.

According to tax documents obtained by The Times, the number of reported members spiraled down from more than 29,000 in 2000 to less than 1,700 in 2006, a loss of membership that caused the Muslim rights group's annual income from dues to drop from $732,765 in 2000, when yearly dues cost $25, to $58,750 last year, when the group charged $35.

The organization instead is relying on about two dozen individual donors a year to contribute the majority of the money for CAIR's budget, which reached nearly $3 million last year.

Asked about the decline, Parvez Ahmed, CAIR board chairman, pointed to the number of individual donors to the organization.

"We are proud that our grass-roots support in the American Muslim community has allowed CAIR to grow from having eight chapters and offices in 2001 to having 33 today," Mr. Ahmed said.

The self-described civil liberties organization for Muslims seeks to portray "a positive image of Islam" through public relations and the media, but has instead alienated some by defending questionable accusations of discrimination.

Critics of the organization say they are not surprised membership is sagging, and that a recent decision by the Justice Department to name CAIR as "unindicted co-conspirators" in a federal case against another foundation charged with providing funds to a terrorist group could discourage new members.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, director of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, says the sharp decline in membership calls into question whether the organization speaks for 7 million American Muslims, as the group has claimed.

"This is the untold story in the myth that CAIR represents the American Muslim population. They only represent their membership and donors," Mr. Jasser said.

More details Tuesday, online and in print editions of The Washington Times.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Jewish News: Suicide attacks

Occupation, not Islam, ‘drives suicide attacks’
By MARILYN H. KARFELD, Senior Staff Reporter, Clevland Jewish News


I must congratulate the Cleveland Jewish News for publishing this. It takes a lot of guts to do it and it is the right thing to do. We need to place truth above everything else.

We are constantly working to knock these stereotypical myths about people, any people, and it is a breath of fresh air to see this piece in this news paper. It breaks the myths.

I am immensly pleased to read this column and forward it to as many groups as I can, there is a myth out there that the Jewish Americans are blindly loyal to Israel to the detriment of the interests of the United States. The second one is their intolerance and aggression towards any one who is critical of Israel policies as demonstrated against former President Jimmy Carter's, even though the President has done more good to Israel than any president since his tenure. He means good for Israel and good for Palestinians. One can never have undue advantages over the other, such benefits are temporary and deleterious.

Mike Ghouse

Occupation, not Islam, ‘drives suicide attacks’
By MARILYN H. KARFELD, Senior Staff Reporter

In the wake of Sept. 11, Robert Pape, a professor in international security affairs at The University of Chicago, speculated on TV news shows on the causes of suicide terrorism.

“Like everyone else, I jumped to the conclusion that it was radical Islam,” he says. “I even bought a Koran to see what’s wrong with Islam.”

After searching for data on suicide terrorism and finding that the government did not begin to track such attacks until 2000, Pape began to collect his own information. He compiled data on 462 suicide bombings from 1980 to 2004 and later updated his findings to 2006. His book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism was published in 2005.

Contrary to his initial impression, Pape discovered that half of the 462 suicide attacks were by people who were secular or even anti-religious. The world leaders in suicide bombings were members of the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, a Marxist and Hindu group.

Over 30% of Muslim suicide bombers were not Islamic fundamentalists, Pape learned. For instance, some belonged to an anti-religious extremist Marxist group in Turkey, the Kurdish Workers Party or PKK.

“Over 95% of all suicide attacks are not religious,” Pape says. Rather, they are driven by the political goal of compelling foreign combat forces, with their tanks and fighter aircraft, to leave territory “the terrorists consider their homeland or they prize greatly.”

Only 5% are random, isolated attacks, the products of any ideology, religion included, Pape adds.

“Every suicide campaign since 1980 has been carried out by groups seeking self-determination for territory,” he says.

Pape spoke to the CJN before addressing the annual banquet and fundraiser of the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The following day, he spoke to the counter-terrorism task force of the Cleveland field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the Jewish state, Pape says, 75% of suicide bombings are in Israel proper, directed against targets such as bus stops and pizzerias. Suicide terrorists avoid what he calls “hard” targets, such as railroad stations and even shopping malls, which are too well defended.

At settler outposts in the West Bank, Pape says terrorists will attack and run away so they can do it again and again before getting shot. “Inside Israel proper, they know it’s highly likely the best way to achieve killing is through suicide attacks.”

If suicide bombers were motivated solely to become martyrs and go to heaven, they would stand in front of Israeli tanks. “No,” he insists. “The motivation is to kill the largest number of people. It’s not about how to die.”

Suicide bombers are typically walk-in volunteers from blue-collar and middle-class backgrounds with no experi- ence in killing. Of the 462 he studied, 232 were Arabs. They are not being brainwashed in madrassas, he says. “They are already perfectly willing to die.” They are then taught the mechanics of how to commit suicide bombings.

Only 10% are poor. “These are not individuals who have nothing to lose,” Pape says. “They would have led productive lives.”

They are also highly educated, with 54% having some college education, compared with 12% in the surrounding society.

The common denominator “driving suicide attacks” in the Jewish state is anger at the Israeli occupation, says Pape. “Deep anger is the critical circumstance. When you mix it with personal motives of revenge and social prestige, you trigger the suicide terrorist.”

When Israel withdrew from Gaza and allowed Hamas to win a parliamentary election, the “second intifada came to a halt,” he maintains.

In his 2003 article in American Political Science Review that profiled suicide bombers, Pape advised Israel on how to stop the second intifada.

“Israel should unilaterally withdraw from Gaza and areas of the West Bank and build a security fence,” he suggested. “Israel did about 70% of what I said. I would have moved the fence to the Green Line. Suicide attacks since summer 2004 are down 90%.”

Hamas is still an Islamic fundamentalist organization, he points out. If religion motivated suicide attacks in Israel, they would be continuing.

The Defense Department has been funding Pape’s studies, and he has spoken in Washington to the CIA, Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, the FBI and members of Congress. Before the 3rd Infantry Division was sent to Iraq as part of President Bush’s surge of 21,500 combat troops, Pape addressed about 150 of its officers.

The recent surge of American troops in Iraq will make a bad situation worse, Pape says. “If we remove our troops, there will be a substantial decline in the number of suicide terrorist attacks.”

Lebanon exemplifies his conclusions, Pape claims. Hezbollah was born in July 1982, created by the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.

When Israel finally withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah did not follow Israeli soldiers to Tel Aviv, Pape notes. “The suicide attacks stopped completely. To this day, there’s not been another suicide attack by Hezbollah.”

If Israel would completely withdraw from the West Bank, Pape predicts that Hamas would end its suicide attacks.

He acknowledges that Hamas keeps saying they want to run Jews out of Israel proper. But Pape says they aren’t doing this through suicide bombings. While it’s possible that Hamas would some day adopt this strategy, he says governments do not build policies on things that are purely hypothetical.

As for Iraq, the U.S. has an interest in a stable Persian Gulf region and maintaining access to oil. We “don’t cut and run,” Pape says. “But our policy can’t be to stay and die.”

The U.S. needs a third way that begins with our core interest, access to oil, which is integral to our economy, Pape says. “Offshore balancing” is what he recommends. “Military forces are poised (outside of Iraq), ready to intervene if necessary. We wouldn’t go to war to spread democracy at the barrel of a gun.”

Pape insists he is all for humanitarian intervention but not at serious risk to American lives. “Our current policy is increasing the risk of another 9/11. It’s creating so much hatred.”

Unlike Vietnam, where America simply pulled out its troops with minimal repercussions, immediate withdrawal is not possible in Iraq, he believes. In Vietnam, the U.S. had no real interests. But leaving Iraq abruptly would damage U.S. interest in Persian Gulf oil and hurt the world’s economy.

Instead, Pape suggests a phased withdrawal beginning this year and taking place over the next three or four years. It took Al Qaeda six years after its first terrorist attacks in 1995 to come to the U.S. for 9/11, he notes.

“This, unfortunately, is the reality of Iraq.” Occupying Iraq has been “just foolish. It’s a tragedy that leaves us in the worst of all possible worlds. It’s time to change policies.”

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Rabbis on Israeli occupation

A Rabbinic Guide to 40 Years of Occupation
The new Israel was larger but not safer, victorious but not secure.
— Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf

Peace is an outcome of Justice. Several Rabbi's have touched on the subject in the following summary by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace. I would urge you to read each one of the link by the 10 writers below. Eight Rabbis, one Palestinian Christian and a Muslim have each contributed their thoughts on the eve of the 40th anniversary of occupation.

Truth ultimately triumphs. Those who harbor hate towards others may find salvation in finding out the truth, the history of Israel and Palestine...the suffering of two people, the deprivation of hope and the insecurities of survival have taken out the ability to foster goodwill and seek peace. They have passed the buck for over 4 generations and they cannot do this any more, they have to take the responsibility and bring peace. They cannot dump their problems to yet another generation.

The Jewish and Muslim communities are making all out efforts to bring peace to Israel and Palestine, however a majority of them go about living their daily lives, just as any other community. Stereo typing "all Jews" or "all Muslims" or "All xxxxxxx" must be refrained as that is the prime blockade for peace. We need to think, if each one of us wants the others to do the job, then we need to question the integrity of our own desire for peace.

If you instinctively blame one or the other, that is the first hurdle in peace making. Let peace begin with you and I. I ask you to honestly study the problem, it might open your heart and mind and give you some clarity. We need to sow the seeds of peace by removing prejudice one heart at a time.

It is just not a Jewish or a Muslim problem, it is the problem of whole humanity.

Mike Ghouse

The Rabbinic Cabinet of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom developed A Rabbinic Guide to 40 Years of Occupation for use in programming around the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War and subsequent occupation. The collection is intended to help the American Jewish community reflect on the implications of Israel's long occupation of territory captured in 1967. As many American Jews across the country mark the 40th anniversary, this guide, comprised of reflections by rabbis, Brit Tzedek leaders, and Palestinian-Americans about the impact of the occupation can help frame the discussions across the country. The rabbinic guide also includes a number of resources, including a detailed chronology of the occupation and a list of ideas for congregational tours of the region.

Selected Excerpts

We Have Only to Begin by Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf. I first visited Israel in 1962. My two young sons and I stayed on the border of a Jerusalem divided; we could look into the old city but could not go there. I wondered what it might be to live in a Jewish Jerusalem, not thinking much about the many Palestinians all around me. [read more]

Recreating a Symbol of Hope By Rabbi John Friedman In 2004, a beloved graduate of my religious school came to my study to discuss a problem he was facing at his Ivy League university. Andy had always been a committed supporter of Israel, and his attachment was augmented by an emotional six-week NFTY-in-Israel experience. Now, a few years later and after a college-level Jewish Studies course on Israeli history, Andy was having trouble attending Hillel events. [read more]

Sights I Did Not Want to See; Feelings I Did Not Want to Feel by Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman A few months before the second intifada began, I traveled to Gaza. I was studying for the year in Jerusalem and wanted to see the Israeli occupation with my own eyes. I had a clear idea of what it meant for Israelis, but I wanted to try to understand what it meant for Palestinians. [read more]

Needed: A Bold Response to Four Decades of Israeli Control of the West Bank by Rabbi Herbert Bronstein. As an American rabbi,I can’t help but feel that the occupation’s effect on American Jewry,our refusal to conduct a real dialogue, is among its most disturbing consequences. Criticism of Israeli policies – even when it arises from a Judaically-informed conscience – has been forcefully muted,and groups which endeavor to join pro-Israel stances with a social consciousness have been marginalized. Even in rabbinic organizations, discussions of these issues is often out-of-bounds. [read more]

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way by Saffiya Shillo Just before the 1967 war, my uncle arrived from the West Bank to my family's Chicago home. He came to America to earn money for the wife and five children he had left behind, to give them a better life. Life was very difficult, he said. There was a sense of impending doom looming over our people since the 1948 Al-Nakba ("the catastrophe" in Arabic). [read more]

How Long Are We Going to Get Banners and Trumpets? By Rabbi Joey Wolf In this passage from Jeremiah (4:21),the prophet laments the way the people flaunted the symbols of victory. In his mind, they celebrated a success that raised as many doubts as it brought vindication. In this sense, flattery and self-congratulation stand in the way of wisdom. [read more]

40 Years of Deepening Spiritual Disorders: Can We Heal Them? by Rabbi Arthur Waskow There are two profound spiritual disorders that underlie the stubborn and self-destructive attachment of Israel to the 40-year occupation of the West Bank,Gaza,and the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and the similar attachment of some Palestinians to the use of violence to resist the occupation. [read more]

A Moment When We Learned How to Hope by Carinne Luck I went with my mum to see a play recently. The play, Journey's End, is set in the trenches during WWI and presents the lives of a British company of soldiers living there, as they struggle with the inanity and insanities of war and share dreams for a future they know they will not see. The play is loud -- the last three minutes consist of shelling sounds as the lights on the stage go down -- and we know that the soldier-actors who have become our friends have not survived. [read more]

Palestinians and Israelis Must "Go Back to the Future" by Ray HananiaThe 1967 war is more than just a bad memory. For Palestinians, it's a benchmark that only reminds us that things continue to worsen, amemory that only feeds feelings of anguish and hatred and fuels the drive for revenge and vengeance. It's a mental quagmire that cannot be resolved,a Gordian Knot that cannot be unraveled. For Arabs, moreover,the 1967 War is not just about occupation of Palestinian lands – it's about the humiliation of being so firmly defeated by a state believed weak and transitory. [read more]

40 Years After the Six-Day War: The Enduring Legacy of the Seventh Day by Steven David MastersConventional wisdom has it that Israelis were slow to see this truth,and that in the heady days following the Six-Day War, only triumphant voices were heard, celebrating the lightning-fast vanquishing of surrounding Arab armies and conquest of Palestinian land. For Israeli society as a whole this may have been true, but it was not so for many of the very conquerors themselves, the combatants who fought and won the war. [read more]

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707Chicago, IL 60603Phone: (312) 341-1205Fax: (312) 341-1206

The Israeli Palestinian conflict

Looking Back on 40 Years of Occupation

Three items:

1) Looking back on 40 years of occupation
2) Dallas Demonstrations on 40 years of occupation
3) About Christ Hodges.

We are introducing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a topic in the forum, because, I believe the crux of the problem in the Middle East emanated from this conflict. And it is in the interest of the Israelis, the Palestinians and the world to bring about a solution to this issue. Shame on the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, they have developed the habit of passing the problems on to the next generation, they have done this for four generations and still unabashedly they want to dump the problem on to the next.

If they spend their energy on building goodwill, it would have been more productive than otherwise. I am writing a piece on finding solutions to this conflict; hope to get it out in the next few weeks and discuss further for the progress.

If the Israelis and the Palestinians can learn to see each other’s point of view with a measure of sincerity, we can hope to take the next step.

We will be presenting a series of articles on the subject for each one of the reader to reflect upon. Open dialogue is the hallmark of civility.

Mike Ghouse


Looking Back on 40 Years of Occupation

Israel captured and occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank 40 years ago this week. The victory was celebrated as a great triumph, at once tripling the size of the land under Israeli control, including East Jerusalem. It was, however, a Pyrrhic victory. As the occupation stretched over the decades, it transformed and deformed Israeli society. It led Israel to abandon the norms and practices of a democratic society until, in the name of national security; it began to routinely accept the brutal violence of occupation and open discrimination and abuse of Palestinians, including the torture of prisoners and collective reprisals for Palestinians attacks. Palestinian neighborhoods, olive groves and villages were, in the name of national security, bulldozed into the ground.

Israel’s image has shifted from that of a heroic, open society set amid a sea of despotic regimes to that of an international pariah. Israel’s West Bank separation barrier, built ostensibly to keep out Palestinian bombers, has also been used to swallow huge tracts of the West Bank into Israel. Palestinian towns are ringed by Israeli checkpoints. Major roads in the West Bank are reserved for Israeli settlers. The U.N. estimates that about half the West Bank is now off-limits to Palestinians. And every week there are new reports of Palestinian produce that is held up until it rots, pregnant women giving birth in cars because they cannot get to hospitals, and even senseless and avoidable deaths, such as one young woman who died recently when she couldn’t get through a checkpoint to her kidney dialysis treatment.

"We are raising commanders who are policemen,” former Israeli General Amiram Levine told the newspaper Maariv. “We ask them to excel at the checkpoint. What does it means to excel at the checkpoint? It means being enough of a bastard to delay a pregnant woman from getting to the hospital.”

The occupation was benign at the beginning. Israelis crossed into Palestinian territory to buy cheap vegetables, eat at local restaurants, spend the weekend in the desert oasis of Jericho and get their cars fixed. The Palestinians were a pool of cheap labor and by the mid-1980s, 40 percent of the Palestinian workforce was employed in Israel. The Palestinians flowed over the border to the shops and beaches of Tel Aviv. But the second-class status of Palestinians, growing repression by Israeli authorities in the West Bank and Gaza and festering poverty saw Palestinians, most of them too young to remember the moment of occupation, rise up in December 1987 to launch six years of street protests. The uprising eventually led to a peace accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasir Arafat. Arafat, who had spent most of his life in exile, returned in triumph to Gaza.

The Oslo Accords that followed momentarily heralded a new era, a moment of hope. I was in Gaza when they were signed. The Gaza Strip was awash in a giddy optimism. Palestinian businessmen who had made their fortunes abroad returned to help build the new Palestinian state. The radical Islamists seemed to shrink away. Palestinian women threw off their head scarves and beauty salons sprouted on city streets. There was a brief and shining sense that life could be normal, free from strife and violence, that finally Palestinians had a future. But it all swiftly turned sour. The 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, coupled with mounting draconian restrictions on Palestinians to prevent them from entering Israel and keep them in submission, led to another uprising in 2000. This one, which I also covered for The New York Times, was far more violent. This latest uprising has led to the deaths of more than 4,300 Palestinians and 1,100 Israelis. It ushered in an Israeli policy that saw Jewish settlers relocated from Gaza. Gaza was then sealed off like a vast prison. Israel also began to build a security barrier—at a cost of about $ 1 million per mile—in the West Bank. When it is done, the barrier is expected to incorporate 40 percent of Palestinian land into the Israeli state.
Israeli air strikes have, over the past year, decimated the infrastructure in Gaza, destroying bridges, power stations and civilian administration buildings. The breakdown in law and order, coupled with the growing desperation in Gaza, has triggered an internecine conflict between Hamas and Fatah. There are some 200 Palestinians who have died in clashes and street fighting between the two factions during the past year—more than one-third of those killed by Israel during the same period.

The Israeli abuses have been well documented, not only by international human rights organizations, but Israeli human rights groups such as B’Tselem. On June 4, 2007, Amnesty International released a new 45-page report called “Enduring Occupation: Palestinians Under Siege in the West Bank,” which again illustrates the devastating impact of four decades of Israeli military occupation. The report documents the relentless expansion of unlawful settlements on occupied land. It details the ways Israel has seized or denied crucial resources, such as water, to Palestinians under occupation. It documents a plethora of measures that confine Palestinians to fragmented enclaves and hinder their access to work, health and education facilities. These measures include the 700-kilometer barrier or wall, more than 500 checkpoints and blockades, and a complicated system of permits to heavily restrict movement.

"Palestinians living in the West Bank are blocked at every turn. This is not simply an inconvenience—it can be a matter of life or death. It is unacceptable that women in labor, sick children, or victims of accidents on their way to hospital should be forced to take long detours and face delays which can cost them their lives,” said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

"International action is urgently needed to address the widespread human rights abuses being committed under the occupation, and which are fueling resentment and despair among a predominantly young and increasingly radicalized Palestinian population,” said Smart. “For 40 years, the international community has failed to adequately address the Israeli-Palestinian problem; it cannot, must not, wait another 40 years to do so.”

Of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents, a staggering 1.1 million now depend on outside food assistance. The World Food Program has identified Gaza as one of the world’s hunger global hot spots. The WFP is a principal food aid provider to Palestinians, providing assistance to 640,000 Palestinians, more than a third of them in Gaza.
The desperation—with young men unable to find work, travel outside the Gaza Strip or West Bank and forced to sleep 10 to a room in concrete hovels without running water—has empowered the Islamic radicals. The desperation has led the Palestinian population, once one of the most secular in the Middle East, to turn to radical fundamentalism. The more pressure and violence Israel employs, the more these radicals are empowered.

The Israeli lobby in the United States is captive to the far right of Israeli politics. It exerts influence not on behalf of the Jewish state but an ideological strain within Israel that believes it can crush Palestinian aspirations through force. The self-defeating policies of the Bush administration are mirrored in the self-defeating policies championed by the hard-right administration of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. Israel flouts international law and dismisses Security Council resolutions to respect the integrity of Palestinian territory. It has instead trapped Palestinians in squalid, barricaded ghettos where they barely survive.

It is not in Israel’s interest—or our own—to continue to fuel increased Palestinian strife and rising militancy. Economic sanctions and an arms ban against Israel are our last hope. These were the tools that toppled the apartheid regime in South Africa. And it was, after all, the sanctions imposed by the first President Bush—he suspended $10 billion of loan guarantees for resettling Russian immigrants in Israel—that prodded right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to attend peace talks in Madrid.

A trade embargo—even if imposed only by European states—would be a start. It is outside pressure that can alone halt the inexorable slide into a conflict that could become regional. And a new regional conflict with Israel could spell the end of the Zionist experiment in the Middle East. It may be quixotic, perhaps even impossible, but it is the last measure left to save Israel from itself.

Chris Hedges is a veteran journalist and former Mideast bureau chief for The New York Times. His most recent book is “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America.”

Dallas Demonstrates Against
40 Years of Occupation
June 11, 2007 - 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Ferris Plaza, Houston & Young Sts.

Kathy Kelly, of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will join the Dallas Chapter of Women In Black to demonstrate against 40 years of Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The action will include display of an 800-foot banner cataloguing the U.N. resolutions violated by Israel in its treatment of the Palestinian people. Everyone is invited to join in this call for justice.

Dallas Peace Center
4301 Bryan St., #202, Dallas, TX 75204
We honor and support venues that promote constructive and respectful exchange between invited speakers and their audience. Views and opinions expressed at programs sponsored by the Dallas Peace Center are not necessarily those of the Center. Most importantly we strive for thoughts and actions that promote peace and justice in the world.


About Chris Hodges
Chris Hedges, Columnist

Chris Hedges, currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. Hedges, who has reported from more than 50 countries, worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, where he spent fifteen years. He is the author of the best selling “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” which draws on his experiences in various conflicts to describe the patterns and behavior of nations and individuals in wartime. The book, a finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, was described by Abraham Verghese, who reviewed the book for The New York Times, as “...a brilliant, thoughtful, timely and unsettling book whose greatest merit is that it will rattle jingoists, pacifists, moralists, nihilists, politicians and professional soldiers equally.”

Hedges was part of the New York Times team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He published his most recent book, “Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America” in June 2005. The book, inspired by the Polish filmmaker Krysztof Kieslowski’s series The Decalogue, follows people, including the author, whose lives have been consumed by one of the violations or issues raised by a commandment. The Christian Century said of the book: “Far from the grandstanding around stone tablets in front of an Alabama courthouse comes Losing Moses on the Freeway, a refreshing reflection on the ten great Mosaic laws that is muted yet monumental in its own right.” Hedges is also the author of “What Every Person Should Know About War,” a book he worked on with several combat veterans. Robert Pinsky, reviewing this book in The New York Times, called the book “...arresting, peculiar” and “significant.” “Neither jingoistic nor pacifist,” Pinsky wrote, “the book is about the moral authority of information, as it applies to the present and future nature of war.” Hedges will publish a book on the Christian right, a movement which he has criticized, with The Free Press in January 2007.

Hedges, who speaks Arabic and spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the Middle East Bureau Chief for The New York Times, was an early and vocal critic of the plan to invade and occupy Iraq. He questioned the rationale for war by the Bush administration and was often critical of the early press coverage, calling it “shameful cheerleading.” Hedges delivered a 2003 Commencement address at Rockford College in Rockford, Ill. shortly after President Bush landed with great fanfare on an aircraft carrier in which he told the graduating class “we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power and security.” He added: “This is a war of liberation in Iraq, but it is a war of liberation by Iraqis from American occupation.” Hedges raised the ire of several hundred members of the audiance who booed and jeered his talk. His microphone was cut twice and two young men rushed the stage to try and prevent him from speaking. Hedges had to cut short his address and was escorted off campus by security officials before the ceremony was over. His address made national news and saw numerous attacks against him by right-wing pundits including an editorial in The Wall Street Journal denouncing Hedges for his anti-war stance. The New York Times issued Hedges a formal reprimand after the address for “public remarks that could undermine public trust in the paper’s impartiality.” Hedges left the paper not long after this incident to writebooks and teach.

Hedges, who is not a pacifist and supports humanitarian interventions, such as those in Bosnia and Kosovo designed to stop campaigns of genocide, nevertheless describes war as “the most potent narcotic invented by humankind.” He argues that violence has a dark fascination, something the Bible calls “the lust of the eye.” He writes that war is the pornography of violence, that “it has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque.” “War,” he writes, “gives us a distorted sense of self. It gives us meaning. It creates a feeling of comradeship that obliterates our alienation and makes us feel, for perhaps the first time in our lives, that we belong.” War, Hedges wrote, exposes the capacity for evil that lurks not far below the surface within all of us. We are all culpable. War is about worshipping the death instinct, which Hedges, quoting Freud, refers to as Thanatos, the Greek God of death. War, he argues, starts out looking and feling like love, the chief emotion war destroys, leads to the annihilation of the other and finally to self-annihilation. War, he writes, is as close as we come to attaining a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. His book draws heavily from his own experience and the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr.

Hedges, strongly influenced by writers such as George Orwell, Samuel Johnson, Karl Popper, Hannah Arendt, Elias Canetti and the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, began his career reporting on the conflict in El Salvador in 1983. He went to Latin America, ruled at the time by a series of despotic military regimes, following seminary because, as he said, “it was as close as my generation could come to fighting fascism.” Following six years in Latin America he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and Kosovo and later joined the investigative team of The New York Times where he was based in Paris.

“War and conflict have marked most of adult life,” he writes in “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” “I began covering insurgenices in El Salvador, where I spent five years, then on to Guatemala and Nicaragua and Colombia, through the first intifada in the West Bank and Gaza, the civil war in the Sudan and Yemen, the uprisings in Algeria and the Punjab, the fall of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the Gulf War, the Kurdish rebellion in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq, the war in Bosnia, and finally Kosovo. I have been in ambushes on despolate streteches of Central American roads, shot at in the marshes of southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by the Iraqi Republican Guard during the Shiite rebellion following the Gulf War, strafed by Russian Mig-21s in Bosnia, fired upon by Serb snipers, and shelled for days in Sarajevo with deafening rounds of heavy artillery that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments. I have seen too much of violent death. I have tasted too much of my own fear. I have painful memories that lie buried and untouched most of the time. It is never easy when they surface.”

Hedges, the son of a Presbyterian minister, has a B.A. in English Literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard University. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard during the academic year of 1998-1999. He has a strong grounding in the classics and knows Greek and Latin, as well as Arabic, French and Spanish. He currently writes for numerous publications including Foreign Affairs, Harper’s magazine, The New York Review of Books, Granta and Mother Jones. (From Wikipedia)


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bangladeshi Hindus Harassed

Bangladeshi Hindus Harassed
Muslims outraged at the treatment of Bangladeshi Hindu Citizens.

Dallas, Texas : June 5, 2007.

The World Muslim Congress expresses outrage at the Municipal Council of Chakuli, in Mirpur, Bangladesh for evicting families from their ancestral Homes.

These homes belong to Hindu families of Bangladesh, and we appeal to the Government and the Municipal authorities of this Muslim Majority nation to heed the call of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who had set the model for treating people of other faiths and minorities with dignity and honor. In the treaty of Medina, prophet had assured every resident of the City full freedom to practice and live their life as they knew. A nations character is defined by the way it treats its people who believe and practice differently.

We appeal to the Government of Bangladesh and the United States Congress to take immediate action to halt the demolition of the homes, and urge people of conscience to call their Congressman, Senators and other representative to make the call to Embassy of Bangladesh.

To get information about your representatives, log onto:

Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC
3510, International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008, USA
Telephone : (202) - 244 - 0183
Fax :(202) - 244 - 7830/2771
Email :

Mike Ghouse, President
World Muslim Congress

10,000 fear eviction
The Daily Star, June 6, 2006

10,000 fear eviction
Special Correspondent

Over 10,000 Hindus in one of the largest Hindu enclaves in the city at
Chakuli, in Mirpur-12 are living in gnawing fear of losing their
ancestral homesteads and an age-old temple as the Cantonment Board
authorities put a claim on the land.

Officials with bulldozers yesterday reached the place to demolish the
village but called off the operation due to rain, locals said.
Residents there said they could produce all documents to prove that
they have inherited the land from their ancestors.

"We have lived here for generations, if there is a proper land
acquisition by the government we shall definitely respect that
decision, but what is happening here today [Tuesday] does not have any
legal basis whatsoever," said Narayan Sarkar, a carpenter by
profession, living on a small piece of land he said he inherited from
his forefathers.

The crowd of worried men and women grew to over 150 as this
correspondent talked to them. "When our parents learnt about the first
acquisition back in the sixties, they went to the court and won the
case against the government," said a visibly shaken Sudhir Chandra
Sarkar, president of the Durga temple committee and a community
leader, showing copies of relevant documents.

The entire process of acquiring the area for extending Dhaka
Cantonment was started again in 1973 under "confidentiality",
residents said. The community of Chakuli was kept completely in the
dark as the Ministry of Land allocated twenty acres of land to the
Ministry of Defence in 1992. The Deputy Commissioner's (DC) Office in
Dhaka, based on the 1992 allocation, prepared a handover note and
handed over the land to the cantonment board.

"There was no notice, no communication whatsoever from the DC office,
we only learnt about the handover years later in 2000 when cantonment
personnel put a claim on our homes," said Sarkar.

"At present, there is an injunction from the High Court and a status
quo order on our village, but the army does not want to look at
anything," said a local resident.

The Ministry of Land and the DC office's handling of the matter, as it
shows on paper, has been so amateurish that the local people termed it
"a story of gross corruption". None of the gazettes by the ministry
specifically points out any plot number or size of the acquisition of
the land, according to documents obtained by The Daily Star.

"Our suffering and feeling of uncertainty today [Tuesday] is the
result of gross corruption at the Ministry of Land and the DC office,
we want to know where the money for the land acquisition went," said
Narayan Sarkar.

Indian Muslims and Media

Indian Muslims and Media
by Nigar Ataulla, Islamic Voice
foreword by Mike Ghouse, World Muslim Congress
This is the first time we have shed the light on affairs of the Muslim Media in India, I applaud the following column by Ms. Nigar Ataulla, this sums it well, indeed, it is the story of Muslims (and every minority) in America, Canada and out there in UK, Australia, France, Brazil..... and all those countries where democracy is flourishing. As Muslims we have to stand up for justice for every human being, we cannot, nor any one should have undue advantages over the other, such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace.
I believe, the best option for any group is to be a part of the general society. I would rather see us earn our way into the main stream media; be it television, cable, radio, news print, Internet or any other avenue. We need to create a collective pluralistic society, in the long run, in pluralistic societies, difference becomes uniqueness rather than conflicts, and solution becomes the aptitude. I do accept it is a long struggle to get into these corridors, but it is worth it for the long term stability of the entire nation. It is not losing the identity, it is cooping the identities for the general good of each one of us.
We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice-versa, to sustain it. Just as God does not discriminate his own creation, the maturing democracies do not discriminate its citizenry either. Yes, individuals exceed their powers, but they are checkable, where as in Dictatorships, Monarchies, Theocracies and other forms of Government, individuals are not valued. I pray, the whole world becomes Democratic, where every individual is honored for, who he or she is.

The impending book, “MUSLIM VISION 2020” talks about a 5 pronged approach to becoming exemplary citizens of the world. One of the 5 pillars of the book is getting involved in Media and work on bringing balance, truth and justice in reporting and earning respect of the world. The proceeds of the books will fund the development of World Muslim Congress and promote pluralistic democracies.

At the World Muslim Congress, we have been expressing the desire for Muslims to pick up the slack and become the contributors and peace makers for the betterment of humankind, indeed our slogan is “Good for Muslims and good for the world”.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) showed ( ) us the way to be great citizens, and his first lesson for us is to be Al Amin; the trustworthy, the truthful and the peace maker, ever ready to help others. Let’s request our Imams and leaders to focus their sermons on getting us to be the Amins of the society, please remember clearly the Prophet was called Al Amin by non-Muslims, he created a model of co-existence and living together, if we do this right, providence will move in and help us become the best citizens we can be, to be good to others and good to ourselves.

Insha Allah all sorts of good things will happen to us.

Mike Ghouse


Indian Muslims and the Media
Nigar Ataulla, Islamic Voice

The sudden wave of interest in Islam across the world seemed to commence just after September 11, 2001. The Indian as well as the Western media, television as well as print, devoted reams of paper and time slots to report incidents ranging from stories of conversion to Islam and the booming sales of copies of the Qur’aan. Somewhere along this line, Muslims and the media became a hot topic of discussion at various forums.

In this context of growing media attention given to Islam and Muslims, a critical issue is that of the role that the media plays in reinforcing certain negative stereotypical images of the community. Of particular importance also is the role that the Indian Muslim media is playing, and can play, in both combating these negative stereotypes and disinformation about Islam and Muslims in the 'mainstream' media, as well as helping in the process of the overall empowerment of the Muslim community.

Muslim representation in the Indian media is dismal, while Muslims' share in media ownership is even more pathetic. Muslims do not have any considerable hold over the media. In northern India, several Urdu newspapers owned by Muslims have gradually closed down or rapidly lost circulation. In contrast, Urdu dailies from centers like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Kolkata and even Bangalore are doing well and look professional. Muslims are yet to have any major presence in TV channel ownership, though the two or three that exist today devote a large share of time to religious issues, rather than on other social-economic issues facing the community. Some success stories of Muslim-owned newspapers in languages other than Urdu and English are the daily Madhyamam in Malayalam, Gujarat Today in Gujarati and Vaartha Bharti in Kannada, published from Mangalore. Madhyamam started in 1991 from Kozhikode and is now published from eight centers, including two in the Gulf. Gujarat Today started nearly 20 years ago and has now achieved a circulation of around 30,000. Vaartha Bharati is three years old, and is now going in for its second edition from Bangalore. Another publication called Tejas from Kerala is believed to be making waves and has acquired popularity within a year of its launch. As for news and features agencies, some attempts were made in the past and FANA (Features and News Alliance) from New Delhi seemed like a trend-setter, but it unfortunately wound up.

There exist just a few Muslim magazines in English, but their circulation is small and they are read almost entirely by Muslims only. Several Muslim-owned magazines exist in languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, and Bengali. As an Associate Editor with an English-language Muslim monthly magazine that is based in Bangalore, my desk was often flooded with newsletters and tabloids in these languages. From a remote corner of Bihar to the crowded Muslim-dominated locality of Shivajinagar in Bangalore, editors of these tabloids were making efforts in their own way to convey the message of Islam or even social issues related to the community.

The launch of an Urdu service of UNI, the Urdu channel of Doordarshan on August 15, 2006, and completion of six years of the Urdu channel 'ETV Urdu' from Hyderabad are distinct milestones of success as regards the Indian Muslim media. Urdu journalism courses have been started in the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia, in New Delhi and the Osmania University, Hyderabad.

The quality of Urdu journalism improved in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Aurangabad from the late 1980s and the survival of magazines like Urdu Mein Science, Shayar, Gagan, Sanaat-o-Harafat from Kolkata and Khatoon-e-Mashriq from Delhi is worth mentioning. Islamic Voice, Radiance, Milli Gazette, Nation and the World, Afkar-e-Milli and Al-Harmony are a few English magazines known nationally and run by Muslims.

Muslims often complain that the national media is biased in its coverage of issues and events pertaining to the community. The word "journalism" or "journalist" used to raise quite a few eyebrows some years ago in the Muslim community. Choosing not to take up a course like tourism or medicine or engineering after my graduation, I took up Mass Communications from Bangalore University. I was the only Muslim in my class of 30. I had to spend hours explaining to curious well-wishers in the community as to why I had chosen this field and what my job profile was. I relate this to express the disdain with which large sections of the community looked upon journalism and journalists in those days, way back in the late 90s. But I feel the scene has changed now to a certain extent, with many young Muslim girls and boys taking to journalism and the mass media, but still the” buts' remain.

The media is considered a struggling profession with not particularly lucrative monetary returns. Most high-scoring students choose engineering, medicine, management, etc. as careers. Media and journalism are not on top of their mind. There are not enough takers for media scholarships among Muslim students.

In my career as a writer/journalist for over 10 years now with the Muslim run-media, I had the privilege of attending scores of forums, conferences and get-togethers where discussions about launching a national English daily from several centers in India was the most common topic. Participants in these discussions bemoaned the fact that although the Indian Muslims are more than 150 million strong, they have hardly any English-language periodicals of their own, which can reflect their concerns, views and aspirations. Yet, despite the widespread recognition of the need for an Indian Muslim English-language newspaper, this has failed to materialize. Some experiments were undertaken in this regard, but these generally closed down a few years after.

A recent Report (June 2006) by Anil Chamaria, Freelance Journalist; Jitendra Kumar, Independent Researcher; Yogendra Yadav, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, recently examined the social profile of media-persons working in 40 media organizations. These findings are based on a survey of the social background of 315 key decision makers from these media organizations. Its key findings reflect the sources of bias:

1. India's 'national' media lacks social diversity¡½It does not reflect the country's social profile
2. Hindu 'upper' caste men dominate the media. They are about 8 % of India's population but among the key decision makers of the national media their share is as high as 71 %.
3. Gender bias rules: only 17 % of the key decision makers in the media are women. Their representation is better in the English Electronic media (32 %).
4. The media's caste profile is equally unrepresentative. 'Twice born' Hindus (dwijas or 'twice-born' 'upper' caste Hindus, comprising Brahmins, Kayasths, Rajputs, Vaishyas and Khatris) are about 16 % of India’s population, but they are about 86 % of the key media decision makers in this survey. Brahmins (including Bhumihars and Tyagis) alone constitute 49% of the key media personnel.
5. Dalits and Adivasis are conspicuous by their absence among the decision makers in the media. Not even one of the 315 key decision makers belonged to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes.
6. The proportion of OBCs is abysmally low among the key decision makers in the national media: they are only 4 % compared to their population of around 40 % in the country.
7. Muslims are severely under-represented in the national media: they are only 3 % among the key decision makers, compared to 13.4% in the country's population.
8. Social groups that suffer 'double disadvantage' are also nearly absent among the key decision makers: there are no women among the few OBC decision makers and negligible 'backwards' among the Muslims and Christians.

Another most often-discussed topic in Muslim media circles is how to correct or combat the media distortion of or disinformation on Muslims and Islam in the Indian or Western media. What role can the Muslim media, as well as other Muslim community organizations, play in addressing this very serious issue?

On December 7, 1986, the Deccan Herald, based in Bangalore, published a defamatory story on the Prophet ( p.b.u.h.). The Muslim reaction to this began with a 10,000 strong crowd protesting before the office of Deccan Herald and this gradually took a violent turn. It can be asked whether this was an appropriate way for us to register our protest. Whenever the media indulges in disinformation or demonstrates bias, a careful, systematic approach should be adopted:

1-The media people should be known beforehand. Their names, background, qualification, caste, community, family, orientation, training, career should be known. Files of their writings should be documented.
2-The source of the story and information should be identified.
3-Rapport should be built with the media persons.
4-Calls can be made if there are minor oversights or distortions.
5-Letters should be written if there is gross distortion of facts. Positive information must be supplied.
6-If there is persistent distortion of facts, delegations should call upon the editor.

In order to enable the Muslim media to play a more effective role in empowering the community, the following suggestions could be seriously considered:
1- Career counseling of Muslim students should be arranged by Muslim community organizations, seeking to attract them to take up a career in the media.

2- More media scholarships should be instituted by Muslim community organizations and business houses.

3- Centers for media documentation should be set up in different parts of the country, where special emphasis should be placed on documenting material related to Muslims and Islam that appears in the press. These institutions can play a vital role as resource centers for the Muslim press and for scholars and journalists writing on Muslim or Islamic issues as well as for social activists.

4- Efforts should be made to place trained Muslim journalists in key places through a network of contacts.

5- Adequate and immediate responses should be developed to issues that the biased press uses to malign Muslims. Myths about Islam and Muslims should be debunked by a variety of means. This requires proper research...

6- Efforts should be made to seek a fair representation of Muslims, and other marginalized communities, in the already established media. This requires lobbying with agencies of the state, with social movements and with NGOs.

7-Orientation workshops should be held frequently to develop informed discussion on a range of issues, from new media technologies to issues relating specifically to Muslims. Invitees can be both Muslim and non-Muslim media persons.

8. Muslims writers and journalists who write on Islam and community-related issues should be encouraged and appreciated by the community, though the fact remains that most of them write for the cause for the community and do not really crave for fame or glory. Awards recognizing the contribution of Muslim journalists can go a long way in motivating them.

9. A network of Muslim journalists and writers in different parts of India should be formed¡½a forum where writers can share views, exchange ideas, plan collective efforts, etc... This can take various forms, from a simple online discussion group to a website to a more formal organization, like an All-India Muslim Journalists' Association that holds an annual meeting, publishes a newsletter, etc...

9. Muslim organizations need to develop proper media policies. As of now, this vital issue is woefully neglected. Often, media cells in the few Muslim organizations that have them are limited in their work to culling out articles from newspapers and filing and documenting them. Muslim organizations need to be professional in their public relations, something that few of them actually are. They need to have staff who are able to properly interact with non-Muslim media organizations and present them a proper and convincing Muslim perspective on a range of issues. The intention should be to interact cordially with the 'mainline' media and thereby help articulate the Muslim voice and to counter anti-Muslim stereotypes and disinformation.

10. Frequent meetings of leaders of Muslim community organizations with the editorial chiefs of non-Muslim newspapers and television channels will help develop a healthy rapport with them. It is often the case that whenever a Muslim group organizes a press meet, it is only Muslim journalists who are invited, leaving out the non-Muslim journalists. This ghetto mentality has to be changed.

11. Publications owned by Muslims often tend to focus more on issues pertaining to the elites or the middle-classes in the community as most of their correspondents are based in the metros. It is important to explore and report on sensitive issues and problems of Muslims in remote villages and rural areas, as well as those Muslims who live in urban slums. After all, this is where the bulk of the Muslims of India live. Sometimes, publications focus only on the metros, leaving out even major states like North-East India altogether, although some of these states have a very high proportion of Muslims. Again, a strong network of reporters in these areas is the need of the hour. Reporters need to supply news and stories not just relating to the cities and larger towns (as is often the case) but also to include within their ambit issues pertaining to the marginalized sections within the Muslim community.

12. Muslim organizations must consider establishing news and features agencies in different parts of the country. These agencies can commission articles on Muslim-related issues, which can be translated into various languages and sent to newspapers and magazines that subscribe to the services of these agencies. Care should be taken to ensure that these subscribing publications are not just Muslim-owned. Instead, it is vital that these stories and news reports appear in non-Muslim-owned publications as well, so that the Muslim voice is heard beyond the limits of the community. Generally, the non-Muslim media reports on Muslims only in cases of some or the other sensational event, real or imaginary. Few positive stories about Muslims appear in the non-Muslim media. It is as if for
large sections of the non-Muslim media, Muslims are a perpetual 'problem'. In this way, negative stereotypes about Muslims are greatly reinforced. Muslim news and features agencies can focus not just on rebutting anti-Muslim propaganda but also on disseminating positive news and stories relating to the community. This would not only help improve the image of the community, but would also give inspiration to members of the community to emulate Muslim trend-setters who could be highlighted in this manner.

13. There is a desperate need for Muslim media groups to be research-oriented. They, along with other Muslim community organizations, could commission projects on various social issues relating to the community. Articles generated out of such research projects can be sent to various newspapers. Muslim community organizations must seriously consider establishing research centers that specialize in social science research on the Indian Muslims, something that is woefully lacking today. This research can then be made more publicly accessible through the mass media.

A few years ago, an English Muslim monthly had plans to conduct a research project on readership of newspapers in Muslim urban households. However, it had to be put on hold due to lack of adequate human resources to complete the field work! This shows that Muslim community organizations simply do not give this sort of work the attention that it deserves. Further, there is also a distinct apathy as well as lack of qualified young Muslims who can do, or are interested in doing, such work. Muslim community organizations must seriously address this issue.

14. A directory of Muslim-owned newspapers, magazines and television channels across India should be compiled. Names and contact details of Muslim journalists can be included in this. This will help promote co-ordination between Muslim media persons in different parts of the country. The Millat Directory from Bangalore is a good beginning. Apart from a collection of data on different Muslim organizations, schools, banks, etc., the Directory also has a listing of Muslim-owned newspapers and magazines.

I also wish to highlight the fact that ups and downs have been part of the Muslim-run media organizations. A publication I worked with was launched amidst grand fanfare from Bangalore. It positioned itself as the "Voice of the Voiceless." Packed with original stories filed by reporters spread across India, the magazine truly represented the plight of not just the Muslims, but even the Dalits and the Christians. The initial years saw a spurt in the subscription levels of the magazine as it comprised articles sent in by Muslims and non-Muslims.

Marketing has to be an important part of any publication. But this was where this magazine faltered miserably. Confined to a closed group of readers concentrated in certain regions in India, the circulation was stagnant. This affected the status of the magazine, ultimately came the sad day when the magazine was "carried off" to God's own Country. Kerala! The last I heard, it had suspended publication.

As the above instance suggests, marketing and publicity strategies of Muslim-owned publications deserve serious thought as they cannot depend simply on the emotions and goodwill of the community to survive in the long-run. A marketing-savvy executive should be part of the team of any Muslim publication or channel. In other words, Muslim publications need to be much more professional than they now are.

Most Muslim-run publications circulate within the Muslims. They never reach the corridors of power, probably because they do not resort to aggressive marketing. They are also hardly read by non-Muslims, which mean that the Muslim point of view is hardly ever heard outside the community. This is a crucial issue that needs to be seriously addressed. It is clear that the Muslim opinion or voice must indeed be heard outside the community as well, by influential non-Muslim opinion-makers, agencies of the state and by the wider, including non-Muslim, society at large.

It is often said that Muslim-run publications do not offer fancy and attractive remuneration to writers. This does dampen the motivation of some prospective writers to contribute articles. But most Muslim writers offer their articles to Muslim-run publications out of their own will, with the passion to do something for the community. I have felt considerable uneasiness while coordinating with writers for the publication I edit when they offer brilliant original articles, but our hands are tied as they cannot be paid the remuneration they deserve. So it is back to recycled stuff downloaded from the Internet!

The community must open its eyes to the changing trends in technology, and use television and the print and digital media wisely with a balanced professional approach, rather than taking up the attitude of simply countering or challenging the Western media or anti-Muslim sections of the Indian media, although this, too, is important. A “Times of Muslims" or a "CNN of Muslims" will see the light of day when the community stops looking inward and opens its arms out to non-Muslims, other marginalized minorities and communities, and talks and writes about them whenever issues pertaining to them arise.


Nigar Ataulla is the Associate Editor of the Bangalore-based monthly 'Islamic Voice' ( She can be contacted on

This paper was presented at a conference on the Sachar Committee Report, organized by the Forum for Social Action at Trivandrum, Kerala, on 19th May, 2007.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme " good for Muslims and good for the world." Mike believes that if people can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. His personal Website is and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his blogs: and . He can be reached at Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town.


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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.