New Age Islam Bureau
A new era: Women allowed in
Rohingya problem is neither a
border nor a law and order issue
Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd)
Donald Trump’s reaction to
terror? To make America terrified again
We must end the terror double
I Want ‘Allahu Akbar’ Back
Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau
ideology to prevent attacks
By Khaleej Times
tweets in capital letters are also not a solution, neither is a travel ban on
people from select countries.
Berlin, Stockholm, London, Barcelona, and now New York. Tuesday's attack in
America's most cosmopolitan city is similar to what some other global cities
have experienced in recent months and years. The attack in Lower Manhattan left
behind a mile-long path of bodies. Why is it becoming an awfully familiar
routine of extremists to turn busy streets of cities into combat zones,
claiming lives of innocent and unleashing chaos? The attacker this time was a
US resident, an Uzbek national, who had come to the United States just seven
years ago to start a new life. He seemed happy, was eager to learn English. He
even found respectable work, so where did things go wrong? What stoked his rage
and what provoked him to vent it out through such a heinous act? There are no
answers as yet. However, this incident could intensify the political debate in
the US and elsewhere over immigration rules and security, but are there any
foolproof solutions to such problems? When people turn vehicles into weapons of
destruction there is little that authorities can do to prevent such events.
There is no solace in knowing that we live in a world of terror and bigotry
where innocence is lost. Is shutting the door to foreigners a solution? Maybe
not. Open door policies have worked, offering opportunities to people and
tweets in capital letters are also not a solution, neither is a travel ban on
people from select countries. Rigorous vetting at points of entry might help,
but how can authorities really deal with radicalisation of youth that happens
on their home turf? The Dark Web has been the most potent tool for extremist
groups such as Daesh to coax the young into their fold. Daesh might have lost
territories in Syria and Iraq, but its presence in the virtual world is real.
The extremist group has plans to make inroads in the West. Greater
surveillance, sharing of intelligence and information could help prevent such
attacks. More importantly, we need a new plan to keep our youth engaged and
gainfully employed, so that they do not embark on an extremist path.
A new era: Women
allowed in Saudi stadiums
decision that the Saudi sports authority has taken to allow women and families
to enter football stadiums is one of the most important bold and commended
steps the Saudi government has taken recently.
this decision there was another drastic changed that echoed loudly and there’s
no exaggeration in that. I meant the ruling to allow women to drive.
was expected, and this is not unusual, there are those who are resisting these
changes on the pretext of religion, socio-cultural excuses or both. But the
strength of rejection today is not as it was in yesterday’s Saudi Arabia ... We
are really changing ... This is evidence to a healthy prospect because those
who don’t change become doomed to annihilation and stagnation.
is a common collective and individual psychological procedure. The norm lies in
rejecting the new and generating doubts about it no matter how useful and
beneficial the change may be. The new is resisted even if it has nothing to do
with a forbidden acknowledged and testified religious law. Yet, religious
jurisprudence is applied simply as a cover for the social psychological denial.
behavior has been apparent in more than one country and in more than one religion
or religious sect. The ancient Iraqi social researchers mentioned what they
have called Shiite clerics’ resistance to opening formal educational schools.
the printing press was founded as the most important invention to spread
knowledge in the Middle Ages, the scientists of Asitane (Istanbul nowadays)
Astana, capital of the Ottoman Empire, and the ‘Sheikhs of Islam in it’ stood
against the printing press. So, in 1728 Ottoman scholars issued a fatwa
forbidding the printing of all religious books and limiting permissibility –
how generous of them – to print non-religious books only.
for the resistance on formal female education, you can go on and on about this.
This resistance is not only in Najd, but also in Hejaz. Yet, it’s not just in
Najd and Hejaz, but also in the Gulf such as Kuwait and Sharjah. The again,
it’s not only in the Arab world but in many Muslim countries, as per the
thorough explanation of Saudi researcher Abdullah al-Washmi in his book “Fitnat
Alkawl Bitaaleem Al Banat” (The Fitna in educating girls).
of this, I recall the Saudi scene of when some religious Sheikhs resisted
modernization manifestations, even the simple ones. A time where it was
forbidden for a man to wear a watch on his wrist. Others include:
Holding theatrical plays
Training soldiers on foreign systems
Men were forbidden to clap because it resembled them to women
Women were forbidden to have a side parting that allowed their hair to wrap
around one side of their neck
are not assumptions, but they’ve been stipulated in a book written by the late
Sheikh Hamoud al-Touegri, who died in 1993.
the new is usual behavior, however it is decreasing and disappearing with time
and the disappearance of any concern over it, unless there are people who seek
to create a fake case. But not to those who seek from rejecting the new to
create a mobilization issue.
to the New World, Saudi women.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi
presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He
has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia
& Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published
several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He
appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the
ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.
is neither a border nor a law and order issue
By Brig Gen
Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd)
yet the approach of the government has demonstrated exactly that. The home
ministry's statement to the media stated that the purpose of the minister's
recent visit to Burma was to attend a meeting on cooperation between Bangladesh
and Myanmar on border and security matters. And therefore one would not be
wrong to say that the government has so far treated the Rohingya issue as a
border and normal law enforcement matter.
according to the home minister's statement on Oct 12, “Our main agenda in the
discussions will be repatriation of the Rohingyas who have entered Bangladesh
and stopping a recurrence of such events,” is a matter which to my mind should
have best been left to the foreign ministry, and the foreign minister's visit
to address the repatriation issue would have been in order.
my mind the Rohingya and security does not fall within the ambit of the home
ministry's remit, unless of course the Prime Minister, who also happens to be
the defence minister, had tasked the home minister to talk these issues too.
But again, the usual caveat that Myanmar foists on the progress to the path of
a quick resolution of the problem is the 1992 Agreement. And only yesterday
Myanmar made the most ludicrous comment that Bangladesh is delaying the process
of repatriation to attract more foreign aid. So whatever Suu Kyi says is subtly
countermanded by the Generals. The devious mind of the Myanmar general puts
even the satanic innovations to shame.
Aung Sun Su Kyi is not in charge in Myanmar has been all but clear for a long
time. She does not call the shots, and is quite happy to let the military run
the affairs of the country. For a person who is supposed to have fought for
democracy and the rule of the people in her country, that is an odious
compromise for her political survival. It is not really the rule of the people
but a sham democracy with the Nobel Laureate for Peace in the shop
window—displaying to the world the “face of democracy” in Myanmar. It is virtually
a military rule in the guise of democracy. And it is not the parliament but the
military who calls the shots in Myanmar. Therefore, it is not the anointed
leader but the real powerbase that should be targeted for the resolution of the
one understands, is a tall order to achieve. Given the deep-rooted
strategic-economic interest of some regional and supra regional powers in
Myanmar, the reasons for the unwillingness to take action against Myanmar
despite the renewed ethnic cleansing of the Rakhine is clear. The US intention
to explore ways to impose sanctions on Myanmar is perhaps more substantive than
what has been expressed or done by most countries except for the EU.
Tillerson's message to the Army Generals was meant to convey a message. But any
demonstrated firm action on the country is going to be restrained by India and
China, the two most influential countries that can bear upon the Myanmar
military, both with different and conflicting stakes in that country. And this
has been amply demonstrated by the Indian call to the US for restraint
following US Secretary of State's veiled threat to the Myanmar Generals. And
whatever faint hope there might have been of passing a resolution on the matter
by October 31 in the Security Council, the last day of France's presidentship
of the Council and who had circulated the draft to all members of the Council
was dashed, because neither Russia nor China had consented to the draft.
while we are calling upon the international community to assume a more
stringent posture against the military regime in Naypyidaw, our
business-as-usual posture with Myanmar will certainly dilute the gravity of the
situation. First it was the visit by our food minister to that country to
purchase rice, in the midst of the persecution and exodus of the Rohingyas
which was creating the most severe problems for Bangladesh. While the normal
diplomatic lines of communications must never be disrupted, we cannot pretend
as if nothing has happened between the two neighbours. That would convey the
wrong message to the world, and certainly to the military junta in Myanmar.
now we have the MoU signed during the home minister's visit. We are not aware
of the details of it, but if the comment of the Myanmar government's permanent
secretary for home affairs following the signing of the MoU is anything to go
by, it shows that not only has the ball been deftly sent back to our court, it
reads as if it is Bangladesh's responsibility to stop the Rohingya exodus. The
onus of the problem has been made to devolve on us by very intricate and
skilful use of language. The two statements merit dissection.
comments interestingly read, “The two sides have agreed to halt the outflow of
Myanmar residents to Bangladesh”, and “form a joint working group”. And, “the
two countries agreed to restore normalcy in Rakhine to enable displaced Myanmar
residents to return from Bangladesh at the earliest opportunity”.
me! How is it up to Bangladesh to halt the outflow of the Myanmar residents? Unless
of course Myanmar allows Bangladesh forces to sanitise the Rakhine State. And
notice how subtly Myanmar avoids referring to Rohingya as “citizens” by terming
them “Myanmar residents.” And how is it Bangladesh's responsibility to restore
normalcy in the region. Is that the preamble of the proposed Joint Working
Group? One wonders whether we have unwittingly become a party to the resolution
of the conflict in Rakhine. This is a question the policy makers should
seriously ponder on and provide an answer to.
Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc,
psc (Retd) is Associate Editor, The Daily Star.
reaction to terror? To make America terrified again
By Simon Jenkins
a truck down a New York street and knock people down, and you’re “a sick and
deranged person”. But what if you drive a truck down a New York street, knock
people down and shout, “Allahu Akbar”? You are a Muslim terrorist, a global
news story and a threat to the security of nations. You drive a president to
“extreme vetting” procedures and bring down a plague on all Muslims who dare to
visit the United States.
President Trump first rushed to tweet about Tuesday’s New York killings, he
sensibly assumed the “deranged person” thesis. His one-man global newsfeed may
exaggerate bad news when it involves foreign cities – as in recent London
terror attacks – but he is reluctant to do so when the news is about his home
town. Only when told about the “Allahu Akbar” cry did he change his stance.
Then he had to be a man of power, defender of his nation.
appears that the culprit is yet another “lone wolf”. He has the familiar
background of rootless immigrant, described by those know him as quiet and
hard-working, an Uber driver who passed all security checks, and who had a wife
and family. His entry into America in 2010 was from a country, Uzbekistan, that
is not on Trump’s list of “dangerously” Muslim places. Yet Trump could still
demand an enhancement of immigration control as part of his “war on terror”.
who know and admire the United States recognise it for two qualities. The first
is its robustness towards the slings and arrows of fortune, as exemplified by
its attitude to gun ownership, unemployment and healthcare. America’s public
realm borders on the callous, echoing the tough individualism of the wild west.
It is proud to distance itself from the safety nets and sensitivities of
Europe’s welfare societies.
was manifest last month, in Trump’s response to the massacre by machine gun of
58 people, and the wounding of 500 others, in Las Vegas. There was no mention
of “extreme vetting” of gun owners, despite their posing a threat a thousand
times greater to Americans than any terrorist. There was no hint that any
change in the criminal law, or in the wider regulation of this particular
pastime, was due. Las Vegas has passed into history as just one of those things
that happen. Guns are a very American form of terror.
amid this toughness lurks a pathological wimpishness towards the outside world.
The most powerful and secure nation on Earth, its territory last threatened
with invasion by the British in 1815, quivers with fear before an imagined army
of hostile forces massing across every border and beyond every sea. Its budget
groans under the burden of “homeland defence”. Its politics is dominated by
“tough on terror”. The reality is that by no stretch of geography is America’s
security, let alone its existence, under threat.
leads to a syndrome displayed by Trump and his predecessor-but-one, George W Bush:
the construction of scenarios requiring presidential reaction. Bush’s response,
desperate not to seem weak in confronting terror, was the disastrous “wars of
9/11”. Trump in opposition ridiculed these wars. Yet from his first day in
office, he searched for similar enemies against whom to arm his rhetoric. Hence
his imposition of migration controls that have proved discriminatory, unjust
politics of fear is poison to the body politic. That Britain is no less
vulnerable to it was illustrated by last month’s claim by its head of MI5, that
the nation is “more under threat than ever”. I am sure Andrew Parker is right
to worry about Islamic State fighters returning to the UK and what they may
wish to do, but it is most unlikely they will kill even remotely as many people
as Britain has faced in many decades of homegrown terrorism, without national
security being undermined.
suicide killers are the toughest of all criminal nuts to crack. Even if it one
day becomes conceivable to match facial recognition to mass surveillance, and
to tail all suspect individuals and sniff out all explosives, it will remain
impossible to forestall a determined suicide killer. Prevention on the ground
soon degenerates into the absurd clutter now on display in London’s tourist
West End – a blight of ugly barriers, bollards, cones and gates. They indicate
nothing beyond a city in panic-stricken thrall to terror, and no mayor with the
guts to call a halt.
reality is that a modern city-dweller is far more at risk from traffic
accidents, gangland knives, air pollution and hospital infection than from
terrorism. No reasonably open society can work without a degree of
vulnerability. This has long included politically motivated violence. But of
all the risks to life and limb that a modern citizen runs, such violence is
almost trivial in its incidence.
is a means to an end: that of coercive publicity. It will happen. It will
happen especially where we polarise confrontations of race and religion round
the world. It will happen when weak people cannot resort to armies or bombs or
drones, to gain leverage in enforcing their ideas of how society should be run.
There is no such thing as a terrorist state. There are just people who use
terror as a means to an end.
only power that can be deployed against this curse is the power of perspective.
It is to treat terror as a criminal means of making a point. This has not
changed since Joseph Conrad described the terrorist as “terrible in the
simplicity of calling madness and despair to the regeneration of the world …
like a pest in the street full of men”. What cannot be prevented is best
accommodated. It is the psychological price we pay to live in an open and
dangers pale against those our grandparents and their forebears had to manage.
We are incomparably safer than humanity has ever been before. A community that
can devote so much attention to suppressing contentious gatherings, offensive
remarks and “invalidations of my identity” is not a society under existential
threat. As for how best to help the traumatised people of New York, the answer
is to do the opposite of what Americans did to European cities hit by such
killings, which was to boycott them. The answer is to book a New York holiday,
• Simon Jenkins is a Guardian
We must end the
terror double standards
horrible terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday has so far left us
with little useful information regarding the rampage and its perpetrator. But
that hasn’t stopped either the media or our politicians from indulging in rank
speculation and collective guilt mongering.
what we know so far. We know that eight innocent people – including five from
Argentina and one from Belgium – were tragically killed. We know that Sayfullo
Saipov, the suspect in the attack, is a 29-year-old man who came to the United
States from Uzbekistan in 2010, before Isis existed. We know that the attacker
mowed down his victims using a rented van. And we know that after leaving the
vehicle the suspect is reported to have yelled the words “Allahu Akbar” before
being shot by a police officer.
of this writing, that’s essentially all we know for certain, at least regarding
the key operating details of this attack. And yet, that hasn’t stopped the New
York Times from reporting that the suspect had been “on the radar” of the
that phrase is so vague that it’s worthless, which is precisely the problem.
The New York Times report continues by saying that a recent terrorism
investigation “resulted in charges against five men from Uzbekistan and one
from Kazakhstan of providing material support to Isis. Several of the men have
pleaded guilty,” but then explains that it was “unclear whether Mr. Saipov was
connected with that investigation”.
the New York Times have reported that in the weeks before Las Vegas shooter
Stephen Paddock killed 59 people, another American man, Spencer Hight, shot and
killed eight people in Plano, Texas, and then inform us that it was “unclear”
if Paddock was “connected with that investigation”? Of course not. But without
describing what “on the radar” means, the Times story fuels groundless
speculation and furthers immigrant fear mongering, this time hitting immigrants
from Central Asia.
White House is also pushing a position of collective guilt that will only bode
ill for Muslims and foreigners and is completely unlike its reaction from just
weeks ago. The Las Vegas shooting prompted the White House spokeswoman, Sarah
Sanders, to say that since “there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation”
then “it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t know all of
yet, here again, a gross double-standard stares us squarely in the face, as
Donald Trump exhibits no such restraint when it comes to this attack. “I have
just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program,”
the president tweeted last night. He is now also targeting the Diversity Visa
Lottery, a system established in 1990 with the laudable goal of expanding the
pool of immigrants that are admitted into the country.
their rush to connect this attack to international terrorism, journalists and
politicians are missing a key fact. It takes no special training to run people
over with a vehicle. You don’t need to be a dangerous foreigner to buy fake
weapons like a paint gun or a pellet gun. Anyone can shout “Allahu Akbar”. It’s
easy to say you claim allegiance to Isis.
fact, claiming allegiance to Isis is one way to take whatever violence you want
to perpetrate and amplify its effects enormously. Everyone knows that attacks by
Muslims, especially foreign-born Muslims, receive drastically more attention
than (the more prevalent) attacks carried out by non-Muslims.
recent study found that terrorist attacks by Muslim perpetrators receive, on
average, 449% more media coverage than those by non-Muslim perpetrators,
“leading Americans to have an exaggerated sense of that threat”, according to
the study’s authors.
American culture today, terrorist attacks by Muslims are still reflexively seen
as the expression of a problem shared by all Muslims worldwide, hence the
kneejerk demands that Muslims everywhere denounce all attacks by individual
Muslims anywhere. Terrorist attacks by white Americans, by contrast, continue
to be seen as individual psychological puzzles that are begging to be solved
with sympathy and care.
logic is as dangerous as it is misguided, since it feeds the notion that
Muslims, who are nearly a quarter of the world’s population, are a unique
threat who require their own special set of security measures. To adopt such
measures would be to abandon the very principles of equality that our society
is supposed to hold dear.
acknowledge that moments like these are when both politicians and extremists
find a situation to exploit for their own purposes. For all we know,
yesterday’s terrorist attack was the sole action of a mentally unstable
individual. We can reasonably adjust our policies to meet the situation, but we
must first wait for the facts, before we lose our collective mind.
I Want ‘Allahu
By Wajahat Ali
akbar. It’s Arabic for “God is greatest.” Muslims, an eccentric tribe with over
a billion members, say it several times in our five daily prayers. The phrase
is also a convenient way to express just the right kind of gratitude in any
say “Allahu akbar” out loud more than 100 times a day. Yesterday, I uttered it
several times during my late-evening Isha prayer. Earlier, during dinner, I
said it with my mouth full after biting into my succulent halal chicken kebab.
In the afternoon, I dropped it in a conference room at the State Department,
where I’d been invited to address a packed room of government employees about
the power of storytelling. Specifically, I expressed my continuing gratitude
for the election of Barack Obama, whom, in a joking nod to the Islamophobic paranoia
that surrounded him, I called “our first Muslim American president,” adding
in the crowd laughed and applauded, the world continued to spin, no one had an
aneurysm, and only a few people seemed to wonder with arched, Sarah Sanders-like
eyebrows, “Wait, is he ...?” I even confess to saying “Allahu akbar” two days
ago in a restroom after losing the battle, but ultimately winning the war,
against a nasty stomach virus.
37 years old. In all those years, I, like an overwhelming majority of Muslims,
have never uttered “Allahu akbar” before or after committing a violent act.
Unfortunately, terrorists like ISIS and Al Qaeda and their sympathizers, who
represent a tiny fraction of Muslims, have. In the public imagination, this has
given the phrase meaning that’s impossible to square with what it represents in
my daily life.
akbar” is in the headlines again because the 29-year-old man who plowed a
rental truck along a bicycle path killing eight people and injuring a dozen in
Manhattan on Tuesday is reported to have said it after the attack. My heart
sank as I heard the live news coverage, dotted with pieces of information meant
to help us make sense of a tragedy: the suspect’s physical description, the
kind of vehicle he drove, the stunned eyewitness accounts emphatically saying
that it didn’t look at all accidental. And the two words the police say he
shouted when the unthinkable act was over: Allahu akbar.
attack had similarities to the one that took place in Charlottesville, Va., in
August, when a neo-Nazi, James Alex Fields, rammed his car into a crowd of
people who were protesting against a rally staged by white nationalists,
killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 people. President Trump
defended his initial response blaming violence on “many sides,” saying, “It
takes a little while to get the facts.” That caution doesn’t seem to be applied
when the suspects have been described by witnesses as “Middle Eastern” — and
definitely not when they’ve said, “Allahu akbar.”
long after the killing in Charlottesville, Muslim extremists in Barcelona
plowed a vehicle through a crowd, killing 16 people. Within hours, Mr. Trump
repeated a long-debunked myth, urging those who sought to combat terrorism to
“study what General Pershing did to terrorists when caught” — shoot them with a
bullet smeared in pig’s blood. “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35
years!” he tweeted. Allow me to clarify: You don’t have to dip your bullets in
pig blood to kill us. Regular bullets work just fine. Why? Because we’re human.
why it hurts that on Tuesday, “Allahu” and “akbar,” those two simple words so
close to our hearts, instantly shaped the entire news coverage and presidential
response. A common, benign phrase used daily by Muslims, especially during
prayer, is now understood as code for “It was terrorism.”
easy to forget that language is often hijacked and weaponized by violent
extremists. Some people yell “Allahu akbar” and others chant “heritage,”
“culture” and “white pride.” The preferred slogans of a killer don’t make much
difference to the people whose lives are lost or their loved ones, but they
make all the difference in Americans’ collective understanding of a tragedy.
hours after the Manhattan attack, Mr. Trump tweeted: “I have just ordered
Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being
politically correct is fine, but not for this!” He also said on Tuesday that he
would end the Diversity Visa Lottery program through which officials say the
attacker entered the country. It’s the sort of reaction that was conspicuously
lacking with respect to gun control after the recent mass shooting in Las
only the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico, leaving American citizens in
desperate need of power, food or water, could have yelled, “Allahu akbar,”
triggering that kind of tough response. Perhaps our president would have been
able to see the storm as evil. Perhaps he would have been energized by a “them
versus us” rage to insist on swift action to repair the damage.
night, as breathless news coverage of the phrase the suspect uttered repeated
on a loop, I took my children trick-or-treating in the Virginia suburbs. We
walked the streets with friendly, diverse neighbors and hordes of happy kids
wearing costumes and clutching bags filled with fattening goodies. My
3-year-old was a pirate and my 1-year-old was Supergirl. We all shared smiles
and candies with strangers, with open hearts, without fear. Allahu akbar. God
Wajahat Ali is a playwright,
lawyer and contributing opinion writer.